It is often on my daily dog walks that I brainstorm ideas for a blog post. At this time of year, the morning dog walk takes place in the dark with both me and the dog dressed in our finest Day-Glo gear so as to not get shot by a hunter. It is shotgun deer hunting season here, and while we walk in a no hunting zone before hunting hours, the Day-Glo makes me feel a little bit safer. But I digress. This morning walk often triggers ideas because my brain is waking up. On a recent visit to China to visit schools as part of the College Board’s Chinese Bridge Delegation for American Principals, morning exercises were in place for students at all schools.
In Chinese schools, students participate in some form of group morning exercises. Whether that is an elaborate, synchronized dance routine, a jogging routine, or bouncing two basketballs at once for eye-hand coordination development, I observed morning exercises at each school I visited. For the dance routines, think back to the 2008 Olympics opening ceremonies for the summer games in Beijing. It is impressive to see 1000 students all in sync with one another.
As an aside, the opening ceremonies for the 2008 games were the most impressive I have seen in my lifetime. I doubt they will be topped. I had the opportunity to be in London for the 2012 games and the opening ceremonies there were just a bit weird and not nearly as impressive. In China, 8 is a lucky number. Actually, most numbers are considered lucky, except for the number 4. I remember the Olympic games taking place on 08/08/08 and now I know why. As long as I am continuing on this tangent, now is probably a good time to share my idea for the Olympics. I think they should take place in Athens, Greece every four years. Eliminate the controversial bid process and the billions spent in the host city. Instead return the games to their origin and save the Greek economy at the same time with each participating country contributing a fee to participate that will go towards maintaining the needed infrastructure in Athens.
Back to the topic of morning exercises. We have tried at our school to provide more opportunities for students to have more physical education classes in their schedule. We created a Fitness for Life course and a Total Body Conditioning Class and are considering Yoga and/or Pilates for next year. I think we would need to get creative to be able to do any kind of morning exercises as a whole school or at each grade level. Perhaps we can incorporate it into the morning announcements. Or, provide opportunities for students to participate in some structured before-school sports. I recall having before-school sports when I was an elementary student, but I do not remember the logistics of it. There is plenty of research out there supporting exercise to improve student achievement. I think this is one lesson we can learn from China. Morning exercises for all would be beneficial. I’ll leave the school uniform issue alone for now, as it tends to be more controversial. There would be benefits to uniforms as well though, just saying.
Do you have morning exercises at your school? Please share the details.