Ranelle's Reduction of Recess Rationale

Ranelle Lang, District Six' deputy superintendent, justified the common schedule and the issue about recess. She contradicted herself, saying that teachers have the discretion to still allow recess during the morning, but later explaining that if recess was built into the daily schedule it would amount to a reduction of 57 hours in instructional time over the course of a year. Does this not imply that in her opinion teachers should not offer recess, especially not daily?!

About recess she said: "Not all teachers need it or want it. Students may not need or want it". Really? Should we query some kids? She said that movement is built into the schedule and acknowledged that movement is important. She used the "Take 10" break and P.E. as examples, obviously ignoring the research that says that activities, that are teacher directed and do not allow creativity or free socialization among students, do not help their development and can impede achievement.

She pointed out that instructional time spent in school is little compared with time that kids are not in school. She presented a pie chart that showed elementary kids sleep 3285 hours and spend 4475 hours outside of school. This leaves 1000 hours for instruction in all subjects and she named them all for more impact.

I got to look at a copy of the common schedule for kindergarten and I am appalled by the structured blocks of subjects to be taught. Of course literacy features the most prominently in it with 90 minutes straight! Nowhere does it say "Play time or free time" There's no scheduled outdoor play for the kids either!

When an example of the schedule for elementary grades flashed on the screen, it showed that after the "learning" blocks, there's only time for a 5 minute break. Totaling only two in a whole day (not counting the lunch break with "one lengthy recess" as Ranelle called it). These five minute breaks are not even enough for 25-30 kids to use the bathroom!

Ranelle sang the praises of the schedule:

* "Longer recess at lunch time"
* "Days are very predictable"
* "Orderly and calm environment"
* "Fewer transitions"

I guess she has not read books by John Holt and Alfie Kohn; true educators with a heart for children!

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