Making Classrooms Movement Friendly (LBP 043)

Today's episode is a double header! First I talk with Richard Brennan, an Alexander Technique teacher in Ireland who is also the originator of the School Chairs Campaign which aims to make backward sloping chairs illegal. Next I up speak with Patricia Pyrka of Beyond Training about her weeklong furniture-free experiment in her son's classroom.

What is approximately 15,000 hours spent sitting throughout the course of a child's education costing them (and us, as the adults who grew up that way)? We talk about the effects to physical and emotional health, as well as brainstorming the options for more movement-friendly classrooms and the upsides that has had.

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Conversation highlights

Richard Brennan:

  • Richard explains what the backward slope of a chair is, and why it's so detrimental, and how backward sloping chairs came to be in the first place.
  • In the UK teachers are not allowed to sit on the chairs as it is considered a health risk, but that health risk consideration has not been extended to the children.
  • The effect a wedge for his child's chair has had.
  • The attempts children make to keep their spines upright in the chairs and how it is admonished by educators.
  • Everyone is blaming a child's posture deteriorating on heavy school bags, but they sit for 15,000 hours throughout their educational years.
  • 1/5th of children in school are already suffering from back pain.
  • The lungs and oxygen to the brain are also affected.
  • Posture goes much farther than shape- how we dampen children's spirits and personalities through forced sitting.

Patricia Pyrka:

  • Patricia describes how she got inspired to talk with her son's teacher about a furniture-free experiment.
  • How she approached the teacher and made it happen.
  • How specifically the room was redesigned.
  • How she communicated with the students and parents about the upcoming changes.
  • The barriers in adult workplaces to sitting on the floor.
  • What kind of movement education she used to help the kids adapt.
  • How this week affected the children with attention issues.
  • Cost comparison of traditional school furniture vs. the equipment they used.
  • Does sitting autonomy have an effect on more self-directed learning?
  • The teacher's input on how it went from her end.

Home play!

Say goodbye to the chair for a bit! The floor is your friend... see what happens.

Resources

Richard Brennan

School Chairs Campaign

Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (STAT) petition

Patricia Pyrka

Patricia's article on exactly how she did it

If you liked this episode, you might also like

Physical Disempowerment of Infants and Children with Kathleen Porter

Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman

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