Monday, May 14, 2007

Needing Breaks

People need breaks. High quality work very seldom occurs when an individual's attention span is fractured, their back hurts, and they are yawning every thirty seven seconds as the hot stale air of the room weighs on their back. It gets even worse after listening to the same person go on for an hour or two.

Some employers are realizing that the short break for a quick brisk walk, or to lay a head upon a desk is a win-win situation for the employee who feels better and the employer as more and better work will be done by a worker who feels physically refreshed. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that some companies are experimenting with workplace sanctioned naps and added break time. So far the results seem to be positive win-win solutions.

If a short recess from work allows adults who have longer attention spans and the increased conditioning to stick to projects, it should have definative impacts on kids. However the Washington Post last year reported that recess is under threat:

The proportion of schools that don't have recess ranges from 7 percent for first and second grades to 13 percent by sixth grade, new government figures show....

parents in her district want elementary schools to offer separate recess periods each day, but students often get only their lunch periods to let loose. The recess drop-off is most noticeable in third grade, she said, when preparation for testing kicks in.

Where recess is in decline, school leaders usually blame academic pressures. Under federal law, schools must test and show progress in reading and math starting in third grade.....

Elementary schools in poor communities offer less recess, and less overall time for exercise during the school week, than other schools, the government study found.

Chicago is currently seeing a law mandating recess move through the State House. The Chicago Sun Tribune reports over half the schools in the city offer no recess.

To me this is absurd. People can not be 100% serious and thoughtful and attentive all of the time. Short breaks and recovery times of fun and relaxation make learning and working much more productive and enjoyable. Short breaks should be built into every day for everyone, not just the lucky second graders in a good school district or workers at cutting edge firms.

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