Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Jump Around, Jump Around

The Center for Disease Control has published a study that directly contradicts the "girls just need to move around less" theory promoted by some gender-based education advocates, most recently in the New York Times. According to a recent report by the CDC:
Using public data, researchers tracked the reading and math skills of more than 5,000 students between kindergarten and fifth grade as shown on a series of standardized tests. They discovered that girls who received the highest levels of physical education, or 70 to 300 minutes a week, scored consistently higher on the tests than those who spent less than 35 minutes a week.
This flies in the face of claims like those made by David Chadwell in the Times:
For boys, he said: “You need to get them up and moving. That’s based on the nervous system, that’s based on eyes, that’s based upon volume and the use of volume with the boys.”...For the girls, Chadwell prescribes a focus on “the connections girls have (a) with the content, (b) with each other and (c) with the teacher.
Perhaps, just perhaps, both genders would do best to have movement and connections with the content, each other, and the teacher. Clearly, though, the "girls can (and should) just keep still, but boys should be allowed to squirm and move" theory is bunk.

UPDATE: To be fair, it is possible that the data from the CDC study is correlative, but not causative. Since "specials" like music, art, and gym are cut from students' schedules in under-preforming elementary schools, girls attending schools with the most time for gym and recess are most likely attending high-preforming schools. Still, though, I think that girls should be encouraged to get exercise during the day.

(Image via Victor Friedman Photography)

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