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Give me just one generation of youth, and I'll transform the whole world.”-Vladimir Lenin

 

Young Children Need More Play Time, Not Class Time

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. | September 1, 2015  National Center for Policy Analysis

In American schools young children are being pushed into more structured, teacher-directed class time. Play-based kindergartens, and now even preschools, have been replaced largely by drilling and testing.  This method is negatively affecting their creativity and curiosity.  Torrance scores for creative ability have been falling for Americans – especially for younger children.

Although the length of classes in American schools has been extended, along with more testing, to try to improve academic performance -- “if you want to succeed, you have to work harder” --  this has been counterproductive.  Literacy is declining and students are experiencing increasing burnout.

Other countries already understand the futility of this method and, so for decades, have provided shorter structured periods interspersed with unstructured recesses.  In Finland, for example, students take a 15-minute break for outdoor play after every 45 minutes of classroom time.    In East Asia, most primary schools give their students a 10-minute break after 40 minutes or so of instruction.

In the United States the average first-grader spends seven hours a day at school, with few or no breaks and certainly not an unstructured recess.  Sitting too long causes them to become mentally and physically sluggish.  Children have to move around frequently and having unstructured play brings renewed energy and focus on lessons. 

Studies show that play is critical in the development of children’s physical and mental health. It helps to boost their

In his article, “Children, Play, and Development,” F.P. Hughes writes that there is a strong relationship between language development and make-believe play. According to Canadian researcher Sergio Pellis, for their brain development, children need to engage in free-play without rules or coaches.  He believes that unstructured play may be more important for brain development than even class instruction.

Research studies link more time for free play to improvements in academic skills, healthy emotional attitude, classroom behavior, and better adjustment to school life.

Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas is conducting a nine-year study, the Liink Project (Let’s Inspire Innovation ‘N Kids),  to test the effects of more play and less class.  Outdoor unstructured play is being measured against indoor brain breaks to determine psychological benefits. The students were given two 15-minute unstructured recesses in the morning and again in the afternoon.  They also had three 15-minute character development sessions during the week.  The project was launched in 2013-2014 in K-1 classes in two private schools in Texas.  The first year’s report shows positive results.

  • Children demonstrated social growth and development
  • Transition time from class to recess and back was reduced
  • Children were more disciplined and focused in the classroom
  • Academic performance on reading and math increased significantly
  • Misbehavior during recess decreased significantly
  • Off-task behaviors in classroom decreased significantly

TCU will continue the study, adding another grade each year, and will launch the study in four public schools in the fall of 2015-2016.

Out Of Control Spending In American Government Schools 

Originally titled “Reverse the alarming growth rate” in Texas Insider, January 27, 2011

By Dr. Carole Hornsby Haynes   |   January 28, 2011 Revision

Over the past decade public education spending across the nation has increased dramatically.  The costs are rising faster than the taxpayer can fund them.  In Texas there has been a 63 percent increase. Why has there been such a large increase in spending while student performance has declined? 

For certain the money is not going toward instructional costs. The Texas Education Agency reports that total expenditures per pupil are $11,567 with only $4,972 going toward instructional costs. 

Where is the money going? 

To pay the salaries of large numbers of non-teaching personnel. 

From 1998-99 to 2008-09 the number of teachers in Texas rose from 256,276 to 325,809, a 27.1 percent increase, while during the same period the number of administrators rose from 18,531 to 25,130, a 35.6 percent increase. 

The teacher to non-teacher ratio is 1.019! 

Has all of this extra help from non-teaching personnel provided an uptick in academic improvement to justify the cost? 

To the contrary. 

We have seen a decline in results.  The average Texas SAT score has continued to drop: 992 in 1998-1999, 989 in 1999-2000, and 985 in 2009-2010. 

Why are there so many ancillary members with numerous curriculum directors?  Why are there so many administrators?  

It appears that our educators consider spending taxpayer money on well-paid non-teaching staff to be more vital than spending money to retain new well-trained teachers who often leave after five years for better jobs and work environments. 

The elimination of these layers of non-teaching bureaucracy must be a very high priority in getting our education finances in order. 

Far too much money and time are being spent on public education with little “return on our taxpayer investment” dollars.  As student scores slide southward and violence and disrespect continue to grow at alarming rates in our schools, we cannot expect voters to continue shaking the money tree.  

Voters across America have already sent the message that we want less government, less spending, and a return to the ways that made us a great nation. 

That message also applies to state and local governments and how our money is used for education. 

Public school administrators must take the leadership in returning to the simple, time proven ways of imparting knowledge and stop trying out every newfangled idea that consultants, elitists, and “reformers” want to test next to justify their existence and fat salaries. 

If educators are unwilling to listen to the taxpayers about less spending and improving student performance, they are going to face loss of their positions as Americans seek other options that will provide a better education for our children—at a far less cost. 

Copyright ©2011 Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D., All rights reserved 

 

 

 

Crisis in American Public Education 

By Dr. Carole Hornsby Haynes  | February 19, 2010  Texas Insider                   

American schools are in serious trouble. Liberals, intellectual elitists, and teachers’ unions strongly resist any change from this dinosaur system to a free market driven system. In spite of billions of taxpayer dollars being spent each year on education, our public schools are graduating illiterates.

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