02. 10. 12. - 12:51
Moving School project gathers pace
Kids who studied in schools where the chairs and desks have been thrown out walk on average more than 100 miles more a year than children in regular schools and have less fights than those who were forced to sit at desks.
The idea of removing school desks and chairs is part of the "Moving School" (Bewegte Schule) project first proposed by the Swiss educationalist Urs Illi in the 1980s.
Since then the idea has become increasingly discussed and implemented, at least in the German-speaking world, where several schools have adopted the concept into daily lessons.
It includes for example group classes where the children stand or sit on balls - which Illi said offered "opportunities for creating an active instructional environment".
He added that children needed to move and it was against the natural order of things to force them to sit still. He said that for example the use of balls provided "the ideal stimulus for awareness."
And researchers have now confirmed the advantages of his system after fitting children at a school in Germany with movement sensors designed to clock up how far they travel in one of the desk free school rooms.
The German sporting expert and child educationalist Jens Keyssner who carried out what was the first study into the effectiveness of moving schools fitted with devices to the kids in a primary school in Baden Württemberg in Germany.
He said: "The device was fitted to the kid's body and measured every step they took – a bit like the pacemakers that joggers use to check how far they have travelled."
Presenting his study at a congress in Salzburg he said that the data was a clear confirmation of the effectiveness of the idea: "On average every child in one of the moving schools takes about 5,500 steps a day – in comparison the child in a regular school takes about 3,700 steps a day. Work that through and in 180 days that the child is at school that equates to 168 km (105 miles) more per year."
He added that the children in moving schools also had a big advantage over other children in that children forced sitting at the desk for an hour would often attempt to compensate by an excessive movement during the break period – which often resulted in an increase in aggression. In contrast such aggression was less often exhibited by children allowed to move on a regular basis.
One interesting fact from the study was that the advantages of the Moving School were more apparent in boys than in girls.
The expert found that even in schools where there was more opportunities for movement there was a percentage of the girl pupils who remained passive and moved little more than other pupils in regular schools. In contrast boy pupils almost always used the opportunity to move more to make sure they kept in motion.
He said further study was needed to investigate this and believed it might have something to do with social values that encourage girls to be less active.