Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.
~Henry David Thoreau~
My cat has cabin fever. He has always preferred being outside, but as he’s grown older, he spends more time inside. The cold and snow are no longer an adventure for him. So he bats at my yarn when I knit, chases nothing into the front hallway, and tries to toss his scratching pad into the air like a frisbee. He’s quite entertaining.
I miss being outside, too. I usually walk a mile or two each Saturday and Sunday, with shorter walks squeezed in here and there. But the snowbanks are too high, the roads too narrow, and the temperatures too low to walk outside for any distance.
These walks clear my head and stretch my thinking. Most often, I walk with my dear friend, Colette, and we hash out all the problems of the world. Our teaching experience is at opposite ends of the spectrum (her’s mainly in a high school English classroom, mine mostly elementary), which helps us each gain a better perspective on education in general.
I have been walking on the treadmill, but the view in my basement is no match for the Connecticut countryside. And, although I’ve read some terrific professional books, they can’t compare to having a conversation with my friend.
Watching my cat this morning made me think of a student I saw skipping in the hallway the other day. Like every school, we have rules about walking in the hallways, so I really should have reminded her to walk. But I didn’t. Instead, I marveled at the joy her steps contained. Who knows what ideas were unlocked as she traipsed back to her classroom.
What Thoreau knew 150 years ago, and my skipping friend knows instinctively, science now has plenty of research to support. Entering “impact of physical activity on learning” into Google Scholar yielded 67,500 results in .15 seconds. A standard Google search turned up 27,000,000 results in .47 seconds. Reports like this one from SPARK, an organization devoted to combating childhood obesity are full of findings that support a link between physical activity and improved academic achievement.
Maybe we shouldn’t all start skipping in the hallways, but we should incorporate movement into our classrooms and get our students moving whenever possible. Who knows where our legs, and our thoughts, will take us.
Thank you to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Betsy, Anna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.