Don't sit still, school tells pupils

14th April 2006 at 01:00

A Minnesota school is experimenting with letting pupils roam free during lessons to see if they can kick the sedentary habits behind rising obesity.

Twenty-six nine to 10-year-olds at Elton Hills Elementary School in Rochester, Minnesota, have traded their desks for adjustable "learning stations," at which they can stand, sit or kneel. They have also been given large exercise balls to sit on, and the freedom to move around as they wish in class.

Jerry Williams, superintendent of Rochester's schools, said: "It's a way of embedding physical activity into school, as opposed to limiting it to break-time or PE."

The trial, which began in March and will run until the end of the school year, is the brainchild of Dr James Levine, a British scientist at Minnesota research institute, the Mayo Clinic. If succesful it will be extended to other local schools.

School anti-obesity efforts typically focus on intense bouts of physical activity in games lessons and encouraging pupils to eat less junk food. But the Minnesota experiment is designed to see if encouraging greater habitual movement - a growing area of interest among researchers - is more effective. Dr Levine said science is starting to view obesity as state of sedentariness. "It's associated more with inactivity than previously thought."

He had feared the experiment could prove a recipe for chaos with children "bouncing off walls". But he was surprised to find that the freedom to move made students calmer. "There may be even more to this than addressing childhood obesity," Dr Levine said.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now