Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A popular, parent-backed proposal to require daily recess at all of Florida's public elementary schools will be back before the Florida Legislature next spring. The measure, SB 78 for the 2017 session, mandates local school boards offer 20 minutes per day of "supervised, safe and unstructured free-play recess" for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. A bill mandating daily recess overwhelmingly passed the House last spring, but it stalled in the Senate.

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The Children Must Play
BY SAMUEL E. ABRAMS
January 28, 2011
What the United States could learn from Finland about education reform.

While observing recess outside the Kallahti Comprehensive School on the eastern edge of Helsinki on a chilly day in April 2009, I asked Principal Timo Heikkinen if students go out when it's very cold. Heikkinen said they do. I then asked Heikkinen if they go out when it's very, very cold. Heikkinen smiled and said, "If minus 15 [Celsius] and windy, maybe not, but otherwise, yes. The children can't learn if they don't play. The children must play."

In his State of the Union address, President Obama outlined his plans for reforming U.S. public education, including distributing competitive grants, raising test scores, and holding teachers accountable for student achievement. But there is much Finland can teach America's reformers, and the rest of the world, about what outside of testing and rigid modes of management and assessment can make a nation's schools truly excellent.

Finland's schools weren't always so successful. In the 1960s, they were middling at best. In 1971, a government commission concluded that, poor as the nation was in natural resources, it had to modernize its economy and could only do so by first improving its schools. To that end, the government agreed to reduce class size, boost teacher pay, and require that, by 1979, all teachers complete a rigorous master's program.

Today, teaching is such a desirable profession that only one in ten applicants to the country's eight master's programs in education is accepted. In the United States, on the other hand, college graduates may become teachers without earning a master's. What's more, Finnish teachers earn very competitive salaries: High school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what their fellow university graduates do. In the United States, by contrast, they earn just 65 percent.

Though, unlike U.S. education reformers, Finnish authorities haven't outsourced school management to for-profit or non-profit organizations, implemented merit pay, or ranked teachers and schools according to test results, they've made excellent use of business strategies. They've won the war for talent by making teaching so appealing. In choosing principals, superintendents, and policymakers from inside the education world rather than looking outside it, Finnish authorities have likewise taken a page from the corporate playbook: Great organizations, as the business historian Alfred Chandler documented, cultivate talent from within. Of the many officials I interviewed at the Finnish Ministry of Education, the National Board of Education, the Education Evaluation Council, and the Helsinki Department of Education, all had been teachers for at least four years.

The Finnish approach to pedagogy is also distinct. In grades seven through nine, for instance, classes in science -- the subject in which Finnish students have done especially well on PISA -- are capped at 16 so students may do labs each lesson. And students in grades one through nine spend from four to eleven periods each week taking classes in art, music, cooking, carpentry, metalwork, and textiles. These classes provide natural venues for learning math and science, nurture critical cooperative skills, and implicitly cultivate respect for people who make their living working with their hands.

Samuel E. Abrams is a visiting scholar at Teachers College, Columbia University, and he is writing a book on school reform
Partial Article

#1 | Posted by kclnyc at 2016-11-30 12:17 PM | Reply

I support this 100%! Kids need to run around and play if you want them to be able to sit still and learn later.

#2 | Posted by danni at 2016-11-30 12:17 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 3

I support this 100%! Kids need to run around and play if you want them to be able to sit still and learn later.

#2 | POSTED BY DANNI AT 2016-11-30 12:17 PM | FLAG: | NEWSWORTHY 1

And some more than others!

I raised three boys and the oldest (25 now) was a jumping bean. He needed to go run laps around the house every 15 minutes if you were going to keep his attention.
He had so much energy you could watch him fight his sleep.

#3 | Posted by lfthndthrds at 2016-11-30 01:25 PM | Reply

When did florida stop having recess?

Jesus christ that state can't do anything right.

Howbout mandating arts education too since that's the way to keep your kids from graduating as mindless test-taking drones?

#4 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2016-11-30 01:49 PM | Reply

Tackling the tough issues. Go Florida.

#5 | Posted by Sycophant at 2016-11-30 05:09 PM | Reply

The school system is no longer under control of those who pay for it... i.e. the taxpayers and parents. It is under the thumb of central government Marxists, academia and elites whose only mission is more and more staff and more for themselves, and empowerment of the institution itself. Their mission is not health, education and welfare of those under their control.

#6 | Posted by Robson at 2016-11-30 06:18 PM | Reply

The school system is no longer under control of those who pay for it... i.e. the taxpayers and parents. It is under the thumb of central government Marxists, academia and elites whose only mission is more and more staff and more for themselves, and empowerment of the institution itself. Their mission is not health, education and welfare of those under their control.

#6 | Posted by Robson

The school system is part of the government. We elect the government, therefore it is under our control.

However the government is usually co-opted by the rich to do their own bidding, but that's the fault of our campaign finance system, not a result of marxists or anything insane like that.

If you want to fix our schools (or anything else in america), then you have to fix campaign finance, which currently is just legalized bribery.

#7 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2016-11-30 06:50 PM | Reply

#6 Recess... propaganda tool for marxists. Thanks for posting that crap.

I read a study where students who had 20 minutes of recess did better on tests as their minds were more focused after blowing off steam for 20 minutes mid way through the day.

Kudos to Florida.

#8 | Posted by 726 at 2016-12-01 07:34 AM | Reply

Recess is a good thing. I'm glad they're looking at this. Not only to burn off energy, but to encourage creativity, which helps with real-life problem-solving.

#9 | Posted by cbob at 2016-12-01 10:49 AM | Reply

Mandatory recess has always existed in school.

In my time it was called "skipping third period social studies"

#10 | Posted by pumpkinhead at 2016-12-01 02:25 PM | Reply

#8 Maybe you misread my post. I support recess and fun active time for kids. The ideas to eliminate tradition typically come from the marxists and leftists who see all official designated change as the source of goodness.

#11 | Posted by Robson at 2016-12-01 06:12 PM | Reply

The school system is part of the government. We elect the government, therefore it is under our control.
However the government is usually co-opted by the rich to do their own bidding, but that's the fault of our campaign finance system, not a result of marxists or anything insane like that.
If you want to fix our schools (or anything else in america), then you have to fix campaign finance, which currently is just legalized bribery.

#7 | POSTED BY SPEAKSOFTLY AT 2016-11-30 06:50 PM | REPLY | FLAG:

"We elect the government, therefore it is under our control." Are you kidding me, how naive. We elect, in the words of my anarchist brother, slave masters.

We have very, very little control. Our school systems suck because there is no state autonomy. The federal government bureaucrats, most politicians on both sides of the aisle, and unions control almost every aspect of K-12 education, and THEY ARE MARXISTS control freaks.

If each individual state has total control of its school system, at least one of them would try the "kick-ass" Finland model of education. Another state seeing a noticeable improvement in education would then follow suit. Each state thereafter, tweaking and experimenting with the model to optimize it for its local constituents. That's why we have 50 states, that's why states rights matter, that is why the Feds have no busy in education.

#12 | Posted by danv at 2016-12-02 08:42 AM | Reply

"We have very, very little control. Our school systems suck because there is no state autonomy."

As Texas proves every day that it is right and proper that states should not have the right to determine curiculum. They would and do teach pure ideological b.s. and pretend it is history. I have far more faith in our federal government than I do in the very ideological state governments who have historically taught nonsense and pretended it was history. Slaves liked to be slaves? 1963 Mississippi history books said so. Rush Limbaugh is in the Texas history books today but some of the founding fathers are not?

#13 | Posted by danni at 2016-12-02 09:19 AM | Reply

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