To the Editor:
As a strong advocate for incorporating a change of pace and place into the school day, I was delighted to read Vicky Schippers’ Commentary “Say Yes to Recess” (Feb. 20, 2008). As Ms. Schippers states, “Recess … is about freedom.” I would add that recess is not only the freedom of unstructured play, but also the freedom to experience the natural exhilaration that occurs whenever a student is outdoors.
I found, while researching my book Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning, that a growing body of evidence shows that going outside for instruction, in addition to recess, can actually lead to enhanced student achievement. The outdoors can be used as both a venue and a source of content to provide exciting, engaging experiences that motivate student learning, and the research clearly shows that increased student motivation is directly linked to student achievement.
The concept of teaching with the sky for a ceiling and the natural landscape as an audiovisual tool is both challenging and empowering. At a time when natural curiosity about the outdoors is being eclipsed by the demands of busy schedules and the ever-present glow of video screens, schools may become the only place where children are encouraged to interact with nature.
Herbert W. Broda
Associate Professor of Education
A version of this article appeared in the March 12, 2008 edition of Education Week as Yes to Recess and Classes ‘With the Sky for a Ceiling’