Nicky Morgan has announced a clampdown on "low-level disruption". Instead of being penalized for being kids, young people should be given the opportunity to be run around outside.
The government plans to bring in "behavior gurus" to help deal with "low level disruption". Tom Bennett; teacher, behavior expert and ex-Soho bouncer, has been put in charge of the efforts. He will use his skills gained checking IDs and controlling rowdy drunks to clamp down on students swinging on chairs and checking texts in class. The Department of Education claims that "the new measures will place our education system on a par with the best-performing countries." Pearson's global report on education named South Korea as operating within the most effective education system. The UK came in at a disappointing sixth place--showing that change is imperative.
Finland favors a contrasting system to the UK, with students allocated 15 minutes every hour for 'free play'. According to Pearson's report- it works. Finland came in above the UK as the fifth best educational system. It's therefore surprising, and possibly counter productive, that the Education Department are aiming for the same results using a contrasting technique. While it is not a new idea, the government could try the concept of letting 'kids be kids' and play- instead of locking them up all day.
The reforms may work as a temporary fix to clamp down on time wasted in class, but introducing further sanctions is not the solution. With ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) being the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in the UK, children should be taught methods for dealing with restlessness- such as time management. Instead students are kept behind for punishment; leading to increased agitation and therefore landing students in a vicious circle of misconduct.
Research from University College London shows that only half of seven year olds are meeting the government's aim of one hours exercise a day. The students were also shown to be taking an average of a meager 10,299 steps a day. It is not natural for children (or anyone for that matter) to sit still all day. With hours of homework each night, some students go for days without seeing sunlight in the winter months. This can lead to vitamin D deficiencies, cases of S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and kids getting incredibly restless, especially around exam time.
When children do manage to get outside, they usually have a slab of concrete 'playground' to enjoy. Students in Spain enjoy green space to frolic in. Not only is this good for students' mental health- it can also have a positive effect on their grades.
If the Department of Education continue to refuse to accept that exercise and fresh air are important, they may wish to introduce mindfulness into schools instead. New York's Brooklyn Urban Garden school have 'quiet time' to meditate and reflect. A student told HuffPost US how "your mind goes to rest, and we need that" with another adding "when I meditate, my grades go higher". Bob Roth, the David Lynch foundation's executive director believed "meditation should be offered just like PE".
Just as learning how to read and write are important, fresh air and exercise are necessities. The mixture of down time and time to run around (to release all their excess energy) will improve children's grades, behavior and mental health. Lessons outside, meditation time and 'free play' will lead to happier, better behaved kids. It is time to let the kids run free.