Whether or not recess is necessary in schools, is a question that has sparked a fierce debate in the United States today. With a worrying trend of elimination of recess in various schools, experts from various social sciences have embarked on a mission to explain the essence of recess through empirical research. Currently, pediatricians and psychologists are spearheading the pro-recess argument. On the contrary, teachers and school superintendents feel that recess is a waste of time. They feel recess is the primary cause of the poor performance that differentiates the united states from the rest of the first world. According to Clark (179), an overwhelming majority of teachers think recess should be done away with. On the contrary, parents and experts from the schools of the applied human sciences think recess is an essential aspect of the curriculum. This paper seeks to explain why recess is necessary in schools.
The Pro-Recess Argument
Pediatric obesity is arguably one among the worst health threats in the United States today. With the fast food culture gaining popularity, it is not a surprise that children are becoming obese at quite an alarming rate. Childhood obesity is associated with other opportunistic diseases and health conditions that could pose serious problems (Day 1). Empirical research reveals that there is a close connection between childhood obesity, and high blood sugar. When such is the case, the child affected is at high risk. The single most important way of fighting childhood obesity is engaging in physical exercise. Such exercises are simply impossible if a school is not willing to incorporate recess in its curriculum. It is during recess that children get the time to be physically active. Such activity reduces chances of a child developing such conditions as high cholesterol which is associated with cardiac problems (Pallegrini 206). According to research, there is a strong connection between performance and health. The two variables are positively related. It therefore makes sense that recess should remain.
Jarrett statistically illustrates that, coupled with proper staffing practices, recess is exceptionally important as it enhances productivity (1). According to Clark, the recess time is not only essential for the children, but also for their teachers. Mounting pressure on a teacher to instruct students round the clock is a way of introducing incompetence. Foremost, scientific research reveals that breaks are exceptionally important as they enable the brain to relax and to incorporate that which has been learned. Similarly, breaks help employees, in this case teachers, become more efficient. Perhaps the most potent example is the Hawthorne experiments, which indicated that workers were more efficient when they were exempted from the strictly structured routine. Ultimately, therefore, both children and teachers need recess (Pallegrini 197).
Current research indicates that when a teacher prolongs the classroom time, the concentration of the children tends towards zero. This happens due to the short concentration span associated with children’s memory. When I was in elementary school, I could hardly stand an extension of the classroom time. Much like all my classmates, a long lesson could get me fidgeting and experiencing awful restlessness. When this happened, my concentration ran so low that I could not even grasp the simplest concepts as explained by the teacher. When such things happen, a break becomes necessary. From my personal experience, after a recess, I could always feel fresh and ready to learn. My concentration after recess was exceptionally high because the time we spent playing, singing and shouting indiscriminately helped release the tensions that were created by long hours of math. Experimental research carried out by the Knowledge is Power Program (2012) indicates that there is a close connection between memory and breaks. Confinement in a classroom for long hours will not enhance performance. On the contrary, the children will perform poorly because their memory will be greatly affected.
According to Pappas (1) and Clark (159), children gain a lot from recess as far as social development is concerned. During break time, children get the chance to interact in an unstructured environment. Such limitless interaction is essential as one is able to choose his or her playmates. Recess offers a number of lessons to the children. Most notably, they learn to form teams and groups – a skill that can only be developed and nurtured in an unstructured environment. Teamwork is quite essential, not only in school, but also later in life. In such groups and play teams, leadership skills are nurtured, and children get to explore their talents. Speaking from personal experience, I discovered my talent during recess. When we were kids, we could come up with different competitions. During such competitions, I discovered my soccer talent, something that I am proud of to this day. Had we been confined to the classroom, I could not have discovered the talent. It passes for a fact that talents are the most rewarding assets in the modern world. What more explanation would one want on this with the multi-billion pound soccer industry of Europe? Along with discovering talent, recess fosters creativity, through enabling the children to device their own games (Clark 186).
Matthews (2) argues that recess brings more harm than good, citing such incidences as bullying and fighting. The opponents of recess capitalize on such incidences as fighting, and potential physical injury. Physical injuries can be as severe as fractures. The opponents argue that such injuries can cause pain which will not only affect the student’s concentration, but also disturb the parents severely. The opponents of recess argue that it is the main reason behind failure in American schools. Jarrett (1) notes that the opponents use non-performance as a scapegoat. Pellegrini (217) notes that, according to the opponents of recess, the time is not only wasted, but is an interruption to the normal curriculum. Overall, the opponents think recess is the backbone of the failure currently recorded in American schools.
In refutation of the counterarguments, it is clear that the main reason why the children get hurt is not recess, but rather the absence of adult supervision. With such supervision, the children will interact and play smoothly. Essentially, therefore, the vices associated with recess can be addressed without much hassle. The opponents’ presumption that recess is the cause of failure can be dismissed by factual and verifiable empirical research. From the foregoing, it is clear that recess is better off incorporated in the curriculum than eliminated. Foremost, it will enhance the health of the children by keeping childhood obesity at bay. This will enhance performance because health and educational performance are positively related. Secondly, recess will aid in child development as it fosters creativity, enhances teamwork and socialization. Thirdly, recess is instrumental in improving concentration in children because they have a tendency to be restless when confined for long hours. This topic is exceptionally important because it addresses a current issue – one that has sparked considerable debate in political and social circles. My position is remarkably important because it provides strong arguments backed by first hand examples, experiences and empirical research
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