Tag Archives: elementary school

Student Eloquently Points Out What’s Wrong with Education System in Five Minutes

It seems you can’t go five minutes without hearing about how apathetic today’s youth is about education – that they only care about getting famous or doing things that make them happy rather than learning. We are consistently bombarded with statistics about lower test scores, op-eds on why today’s college students aren’t ready for the demanding rigor of the current work force and the reminder that the United States is constantly slipping in rank when it comes to world education.

One Knox County, Tennessee student is going to tell you why. And you know what? It’s not because of apathetic students or lazy teachers. In five short minutes he breaks down the history of the “common core” and why it is failing America’s students, its teachers and the overall system. He explains the problem with treating education like a fortune 500 business and how a student’s success and quality of learning can’t be accessed by the percentage score of a scantron test. He stands up for his peers, their desire to learn, and for the hard working teachers that try to give them that opportunity to do so against seemingly impossible odds.

I come from a family of teachers. My mother just retired from teaching second grade. My father has been teaching at a community college for over 15 years and this fall my brother started his first year as a fourth grade teacher. When I go home for the holidays I will spend most of my time listening to conversations about lesson plans, parent teacher conferences and a rundown of all of the tedious paperwork that has to be filled out just to get a student diagnosed with ADD. When my mother was teaching she would often be at the school until 6pm, and when she came home she would be up until 10 or 11 grading papers, tweaking lesson plans or responding to parent e-mails. Every child of a teacher knows that it is a 24/7 job and that as the years go on it becomes more and more impossible. As the video points out, our teachers today are graded by percentage points on quarterly standardized tests rather than the desire to learn they inspire in their students. It doesn’t measure the important things like the amount of time spent helping struggling students or thinking outside the box. For the sake of their own jobs teachers today are forced to teach their students how to think like a multiple choice question rather than creating their own original ideas.

If we fail our students in learning how to think for themselves, how do we ever expect them to succeed in life?

If you know a teacher that could use this video as encouragement, share it with them to show your support! Or tell us what you think about this student’s speech in the comments below.

Play Your Way to the Best Fitness of Your Life

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Do you remember the days of recess in elementary school? Finally liberated from lessons and projects, if just for 15 minutes, you’d run out of the classroom and skip freely into the yard. Whatever corner of the playground struck your fancy, it’s likely you were running around, letting off steam, and, most importantly, having fun.

Speaking of which, when is the last time you had fun? And we don’t mean the kind you have when you throw a dinner party and sit respectably around a table with your friends. Neither do we mean the kind of fun signified by snagging a half-off pair of shoes or booking tickets for Spain. Would your 5-year-old self be giddy over one of those activities? Probably not.

No, we’re talking about the kind of fun that launches you into a whole new mindset, moved more by impulse than by intellect, lurching forward faster than your mind can process. This is the kind of play-exercise-fun you undoubtedly engaged with as a child before so many inhibitions set in and told you there were right and wrong ways to move your body and express your inclination toward merriment. What society missed, however, is the fact that playing is one of the best and most natural ways human beings have to exercise and let off steam. But past a certain age, we almost never do it.

But that’s all changing now. Some gyms, like Sports Club/LA, have started offering play-based exercise on their class schedules because they recognize the value of fun in fitness. “Play” is embedded in our DNA, after all, and we aren’t the only animals who do it. Countless other animal species exhibit play, especially among the young, for reasons that are still debated but might range from learning coordination, to honing the stress response, to socializing, to developing brain function. Either way, play seems to be an integral part of these species’ livelihood, or else its evolutionary riskiness would have weeded us out long ago.

Even apart from the many benefits to learning and development, play is fun. It gets us moving, it helps us build communities, and it adds whole new dimensions to the “real world” which can seem so stuck in its ways.

Paving the way for play-fitness is Sports Club/LA’s new class, Recess, which uses playground-inspired activities and team-based games to get participants moving, pushing themselves, and – you guessed it – having fun.

As trainer Ian Kilpatrick from Sports Club/LA says,

It is my belief that every single person can find enjoyment in some form of exercise; they just have to find it. I think an element of “play” in a workout dramatically increases the chances of someone having fun, and when you’re having fun and working hard simultaneously then you eliminate that “dreading working out” feeling many of us get. Everyone is different, so some people may need or enjoy that feeling of discipline or pushing yourself to pain, but the fact is that fun will never get old.

Some adults have gotten the idea and joined recreational sports leagues, taken up ice skating, dance lessons, or Frisbee and revived the activeness of their youth. As Kori Rodley writes for Yahoo, play is important at any age.

You may find that you are having so much fun “playing” that you don’t even realize how much movement and exercise you are getting! You will likely use and stretch muscles that you have not used in a long time and may find not only your physical, but your mental health improves with some active, fun, playful movement!

If you find yourself flagging in energy and enthusiasm when you work out, then don’t hesitate to get creative! Ian suggests the following exercises get a taste of what Recess class is all about:

One of my favorite partner exercises from Recess that any two people can try on their own is a “help up.” In this exercise you hold tight to the hands of your partner as they sit all the way down onto their butts. Once they have their full bodyweight on the ground they stand up as you sit down the same exact way. It may sound easy, but it requires team work, coordination and gets tiring fast!

Another partner or group exercise that two or more people can try on their own is a “mirror drill.” All you have to do is face your partner and choose a leader. Once you’ve decided who is leading the drill then that person will start shuffling from side to side changing direction whenever they want. It is the job of the partner or other group members to react and keep up. These should only last for about 10-15 seconds then switch who the leader is.

If this style of exercise appeals to you, then try it out! Find a community center with recreational sports leagues, join a hiking group, or take a tumble with your kids. Forget the inhibitions that say playing isn’t proper, mature, or “ladylike.” Having fun is your birthright, and there’s no shame in being fit and happy!

What games did you love as a kid? Let us know in the comments section!

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SPortsClubLA2012Sports Club/LA has been recognized as an urban lifestyle brand that serves as the ultimate health and wellness destination. Visit a Sports Club/LA location in Boston, Chestnut Hill, Miami, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York Upper East Side as well as their sister club, Reebok Sports Club/NY. For more information visit www.SportsClubLA.com.

 

A Mom to Her Young Daughter: You are not ugly. God doesn’t do ugly.

We'll Forsake Our Ages and Pretend We Are ChildrenMy first grader and I were snuggling at bedtime when she confessed:

“Mommy, I don’t like my face.”

She told me she thinks she’s ugly, that she hates her body, “The girls at school don’t want me in their group because my face doesn’t look pretty like their faces.”

Ummmm… Whhaaaaaaat?

She’s too young for self image issues. I was 12 before I started feeling insecure about my body, which is sad enough, but to be feeling this way at age 6?

How does a mother respond to that? Give a pep talk? Borrow a library book about self-esteem? Make a call to the school psychologist? And after I do all that, then what?

Carrying the burden of an unhealthy self image is like being an addict. You know it’s wrong, but no one can convince you of subscribing to another way of functioning until you’re ready. You’ve got to beat yourself up long enough to learn that accepting garbage into your life makes you feel like, well, like garbage – until finally you explode, “Okay, okay enough already! I want better for myself! I’m ready to make a change! Help me!!!”

My 6 year old is not ready for change because she doesn’t realize there’s a problem. Poor self image is her normal.

She doesn’t understand where her feelings are coming from. And honestly, I don’t either. A challenge from a past life? A side-effect of American culture? A chemical imbalance? I just don’t know. But ugly is her truth.

I can’t force her to believe that physical attractiveness is unimportant. No lecture can convince her that she was born perfect and complete. She needs to learn those things on her own. But she chose me as her mother for a reason – and I happened to be equipped with some pretty helpful tools with which she can empower herself and start fixing the bits she doesn’t know are broken.

To start, I talked to her about challenges, a familiar topic in my household and in my writing. I explained that we’re all born with a set of challenges, and it’s our job in life to figure out how to work through them. Challenges are sneaky. They feel like they’re real, but actually they’re more like a series of magic tricks. Smoke and mirrors. Divine booby traps set up to see if we can figure our ways past them and learn a lesson in the process. If challenges didn’t exist, life would be so boring that we wouldn’t exist either. So we deal with them – even welcome them – so we can continue to learn about love and life on this amazing planet.

Some challenges we can embrace and some challenges we can balance. The challenge that my baby girl is facing is one that requires a little of both of these actions. She needs to work on embracing, or lovingly accepting, her body just the way it is and balancing the way she feels about herself, inside and out, so that she can feel happy when she’s playing with other kids.

This idea is sort of lofty so we broke it down, talking about the divineness and perfection of her soul energy and decided together that she looks exactly the way the universe designed her to look. God doesn’t do ugly, only perfect. And there’s no arguing with God.

We also enlisted the support of my 6 year old’s personal hero – her big sister. Self esteem is cultivated safely at home, the perfect training ground for the outside world. We talk a lot about the power of our family and the strength that we emote through the way we love each other. Big sister agrees to help set the pace (as best she can) to help little sister with her challenge. She can help to provide safe harbor for her little sister by showing her kindness, affection, and forgiveness.

In Buddhism it is believed that a beautiful face is a gift from a previous lifetime of demonstrating kindness. But whether or not you believe in past lives, we can probably all agree that kindness and love manifest physically in people. We say things like, “I don’t know what it is. There’s just something about that person.” Or maybe you’ve heard the saying that by the time we’re 50 we get the face that we deserve. It’s rooted in the same idea – kindness IS beauty.

Insecurity isn’t about physical appearance. It’s about a deficiency in love and my family has no shortage of love to give my little girl.

So for another layer of healing, we coupled our breathing and meditation practice with Wayne Dyer’s “I Am” statements to program her brain with affirmations at bedtime saying, “I am loving. I am loved. I am compassionate. I am bright. I am kind. I am helpful. I am caring. I am good.” And she marinates in those words while she sleeps.

Notice that I do not use the affirmation, “I am beautiful.” I decided deliberately not to use that word because her current definition of beauty is solely external. Instead we focus on intangibles.

I’d like to tell you that we did this and it worked and my daughter is now a confident, carefree young girl. But that’s not the case. We keep bestowing our love while practicing our breathing and affirmations, and she continues to feel unsure about the meaning of beauty and her place in the social spectrum. I’m confident, however, that with time and mindful commitment, the momentum will shift and she will start to feel the peace that comes with finding balance and acceptance of her life as it is, just like her Mommy did.

What We Will Need to Heal After Today’s Tragic Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School

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Our hearts go out to the victims and families of today’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The Associated Press have reported that 27 people, including 18 children, were killed today by a shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This sunny Friday, just a week and a half before Christmas, has turned into a day of devastating tragedy.

In times of great pain and loss, many questions arise. Why do such horrific things happen in the world? How could someone commit such an atrocity? Why couldn’t the children, at least, be spared? Today’s shooting also gives rise to debates about gun control and the 2nd Amendment, as we saw was the case following this summer’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado. These are important discussions to have, important questions to ask. And in a country that averages at least two mass shootings a year, a revisiting of gun control laws is imperative. But, as a White House spokesperson said, today is not the day.

Today, and in the days, weeks, and months to come, the families of the victims are going to need our love and support. Now, more than ever, is a time for community, a time for reaching out our hands and being there to hold the ones who are grieving. We wish Newtown, CT, and all those who have been affected by shootings this year, peace and healing. Remember that you are not alone.

Resources for dealing with loss and grief:

Spiritual Solutions – Dealing with Loss

Facing Death

The Deeper Meaning of Death

Dealing with Grief

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