mixing and remixing to find a balance….
Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? The New York Times reports that two separate recent studies from the University of Illinois indicate that aerobic exercise has demonstrable positive effects on brain development in children. At a time when many school Physical Education programs are being slashed because of budget issues or time constraints, more and more research suggests that physical activity is critical not only for the health and well being of students, but also for their cognitive development. These studies reinforce the message of John J. Ratey and Eric Hagerman’s groundbreaking Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. As curriculum developers and decision makers, we need to remember that Athletics and PE are not just add-ons.
A recent New York Times article, “Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime,” has gotten me thinking a lot about the effects of constant, immediate access to media and information. As more and more people fill downtime by pulling out their smart phones to make a call, send a text, or check their e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook accounts, this habit of filling the gaps between activities is having an unexpected negative effect on our brains: “when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.”
As an educator at a school with a one-to-one laptop program, I see this as adding another layer to the discussion about the impact of ubiquitous digital access on teaching and learning. Multitasking, distraction, socialization, cognitive development – all issues to keep in mind as we continue to look for effective, even transformational, ways to harness the technologies of the 21st Century while not losing sight of the fact that balance is crucial.