90 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
enhancing both our cognitive function and memory.
Not only does movement enhance cognitive function and memory but can
also significantly increase a person’s ability to be creative. Researchers have
found regular exercisers perform better on creativity and divergent thinking
tasks compared to those who are sedentary (Blanchette, 2005). Many of us
have been through the experience of being stuck on a problem, and then
go out for a walk or jog and have the solution suddenly hit like a bolt of
Given the strong links between physical activity and effective brain function,
how can schools use this knowledge to increase our students’ learning,
creativity and wellbeing?
Our world has been engineered for sitting. This is especially so for children.
A recent US study found that school-age children sit for an astonishing
85% of the time they are awake (Rideout, 2011). Sitting is the enemy of
the brain, which loves to be fed by the BDNF proteins that are stimulated
when we move. Kids sit in buses and cars on the way to school; they sit
to do homework, they sit while eating meals and they sit when watching
TV or playing on a device. And most significantly they spend almost all of
their time in classrooms sitting. What if schools could eliminate or minimize
some of this sitting time in class? What would that look like? What would
the results be?
The desks in ASB’s Middle School (MS) science rooms are the typical tall
desks you would find in most Science rooms. They are designed to make
it easier to perform science experiments safely. What if we removed the
chairs entirely and all students stood during their science classes? Would
our students be more engaged? Would they be more creative? Would they
remember more of what they learned?