I have learned how to write in the standing position. Hold your applause, please. I’d like to think of it as an important skill like walking while chewing gum, or solving algebraic equations while keeping my chicken soup from boiling over.
The message of minimizing one’s time spent seated at a desk is not a new concept. Chiropractors, physical therapists and ergonomics experts vehemently proclaim the need to stand and move frequently throughout the day. However, it’s not until a recent PTSA meeting at Pacific Cascade when Principal Bailey announced the arrival of some new classroom tables that I sat up and took notice – or rather, I stood up.
What could be so captivating about 3-foot-high tables and accompanying stools? Well, if you’re north of age 40 you probably spent your middle and high school years jammed in a little curved seat-cum-desk ensemble. Beneath was a basket that held your books, and to your right was an armrest that held your head while you dozed your way through history/economics/geometry/insert-tedious-subject-here. Sit Down, Stay in Your Seat, and Listen, was the convention in 80’s education. Heads up! There’s a new learning posture in town and our kids are benefitting from it.
Principal Dana Bailey reads a lot and talks with experts about how to optimize learning in the classroom. Research cited in “Brains of Boys” highlights improvements seen when alternative seating arrangements are provided in a classroom. It’s no surprise that those experts, using far more scientific language, have declared that prolonged Sitting and Staying is hazardous to learning. Things tend to pool up when we remain planted too long in a chair; blood, creativity, momentum, you name it.
Our middle school’s principal pushed through a teacher’s request for tall tables so students could have the option of standing, perching or just sitting tall during a lesson. This alternative arrangement has been great for long-legged 8th graders, great for focusing the minds of daydreamers, and great for students trying to look at a problem from a different angle. Algebra teacher, Kim Bailey, who spearheaded the installation of these innovative but expensive learning stations in the back row of her classroom, appreciates improved visual access to the board. Her 6-foot eighth graders are no longer cramped in the traditional table/chair arrangements, and some of her students opt to stand while taking notes because they feel they can concentrate better. It’s like the Ginsu knife of furniture – you can slice it, dice it, or just hold it.
This got me thinking. Whoa! If these elevated learning stations are helping to focus the attention of our children at Pacific Cascade, this approach should work similarly for me at home. I know what you’re thinking: Tami’s Bridge Club is going to be sharp as tacks now that they are standing! Imagine those off-the-hook poker games! I’ll raise you…out of your seat! Settle down. I actually had a more pedestrian application in mind: writing.
I spend a lot of time each day writing news articles, essays and blogs, and have found that my train of thought is fueled by blood flow. Coffee is great, but I’ve also adopted the healthier alternative of being on my feet to inspire one of my favorite writing topics: the Issaquah Highlands. This mountainside neighborhood has a lot going on and a lot going for it. I hope my monthly column will help you stand up and take notice of the amazing people who live amongst us, and trends that are providing a positive influence. I am poised for this creative writing assignment, and you may want to follow suit by reading my column while standing.