To the Editor:
The Common Core State Standards are fast becoming the national norm—although criticism of them is well known—and as an educator I will serve the state and implement the new standards and curricula. I just wish the designers of the common core had consulted me first. I have alternative standards to suggest regarding comprehensive fitness education and increased self-control.
Recent research in neuroscience shows that regular exercise increases alertness, improves the way neurons in the brain bond together, improves executive function, and enables neurogenesis in the hippocampus—the creation of new cells in the part of the brain largely responsible for memory. Also, there is now strong longitudinal data indicating that the ability of students to self-regulate, to control their impulses, and to delay gratification, especially at an early age, not only predicts future academic success for our students, but also is highly causal at a far greater level than that of IQ or socioeconomic status. The data are so compelling that some countries are now approaching self-regulation as a matter of public health.
What if we had built a new common core on the idea that physical health and cognitive control could create a competitive 21st-century citizen? What if we began to approach education as a matter of public health? What if we dared to build a foundation on strengthening our students’ minds, bodies, and spirits as a whole? Now that would really set the standard.
Special Education Teacher
Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts
A version of this article appeared in the March 26, 2014 edition of Education Week as Set Standards for Strengthening Minds and Bodies at Same Time?