Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.47.48 AMThe detrimental effects of sitting all day

By Molly Quinn, ’15

The traditional classroom setting: a student enters his first period classroom—binders, notebooks and pencils in hand—arriving at his assigned seat, just before the tardy bell rings. For the next 49 minutes, the student remains in that assigned seat, quietly, and often times passively, taking pages upon pages of notes while a teacher delivers a lecture. Another bell rings, prompting the student to quickly gather his belongings and rush to the next classroom where he will sit, yet again, for another 49 minutes. And another 49 minutes. And another.

Senior Maddie Miller often finds it frustrating that  students are expected to constantly remain seated, still and quiet for extended periods of time, with little to no breaks.

“It’s hard to stay seated all day,” Miller said. “Especially when you know teachers expect you to be paying attention and absorbing all the information they are throwing at you.”

Having taken multiple higher level and AP courses throughout her high school career, Miller finds that these classes tend to embody a more conventional and established classroom setting.

“In my AP classes especially I notice that teachers often feel rushed to teach the material we need to know for the AP Tests that happen in May,” Miller said. “I get why there really isn’t that much time to go off track, and why we usually need to get straight to the point.”

Freshman Jack Levering agrees, stating that in required, fundamental classes there usually is more sitting around and listening than in electives.

“In classes I have to take this year like Algebra I and global history I do a lot of sitting,” Levering said. “But in my physical science class my teacher, Mr. Garner, gives us ‘brain breaks’ where we can get out of our seat and move around. I think there should be more time out of the chair than in it, because sitting in class makes learning boring.”

Both Miller and Levering agree with the point being made in The Washington Post article written by teacher of 14 years, Alexis Wiggins. After spending just two days as a student, Wiggins’ Key Takeaway #1 was that ‘Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting.’

Wiggins states that if she could go back and improve upon on her previous classes she would require a mandatory stretch halfway through class and build in a hands-on, move-around activity into every single class even if it would sacrifice some of the content.

After Principal Andrew Theado posted this article to the UAHS Students 2014-2015 Schoology page on Nov. 14, 2014, the eyes of many teachers were opened to how they often neglect to view the educational experience through their students’ eyes.

Math teacher Michael Hunt was especially alarmed after reading the article, stating that he felt more breaks should be incorporated into the school day.

“I don’t think that lunch alone is enough time to relax, but if you combine that with a five-minute break between classes every hour, you’re at least getting close,” Hunt said. “Maybe there would be a benefit to a seven-minute passing time.”

The Washington Post article even convinced him to make alterations to his own classroom.

“[The article] prompted me to start including mid-period breaks in our class,” Hunt said.  “I wanted to try it out and see what impacts—positive or negative—it might have on our class.”

However, Hunt believes sitting in a desk might be the most effective way for students to learn the required material.

“I think that depending on the content being delivered [or] discussed in a particular lesson, there may be room for some less traditional delivery methods,” Hunt said. “But a lot of time it seems that the sitting in desks or at tables strategy may be the most efficient.”