Today’s interview is featuring the world renowned Martha Eddy, Columbia Graduate and prolific Physical Activity and Recess Activist. Enjoy!
1. Hi Martha Eddy, thank you for agreeing to conduct this interview. Before we start though please introduce yourself and your organization.
Hello I am a somatic movement therapist (www.DynamicEmbodiment.org) with a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University in Movement Science and Education. My masters degree is in Applied Physiology and I am also trained as movement analyst (www.LimsOnline.org) I serve on numerous boards and am on the advisory council of the GetHealthyHarlem.
I founded and direct the Center for Kinesthetic Education www.WellnessCKE.net in NYC. CKE provides direct services to youth and their families as well as to schools and hospitals. Our consultants also provide professional development sessions with headstart teachers, nursery schools, K – 12 settings and in higher ed.
2. Nice! How did you get involved in the organization and movement for Recess Promotion? What were your major motivations and inspirations?
My entry into recess promotion was based in my sadness in seeing what was going on in playyards and the trend to reduce much needed recess because fights were occurring at recess frequently. I draw on my doctoral research findings about the important roles that physical activity can play in supporting positive conflict resolution. I created Peaceful Play Programming for schools to foster healthier socio-emotional development in youth. This program is individualized in each school as emerges in concert with many meetings with the assistant principal, or deans.
With the trend toward teaching to the test, there is less time for constructivist values and activities in the classroom (leading to fewer discussions and chances to interact), recess has become an important period in the day for practicing social skills and learning to self-regulate. Examples of situations that arise at recess that support the building of socio-emotional intelligence include approaching another person to initiate spending time together (e.g., asking to play together or to borrow something), figure out the best ways to share equipment, other types of problem solving, being patient when taking turns, being bumped into by access, having to sit and wait on a line, wanting to play with a specific person who is busy, wanting to be selected for a game or team. etc.
3. Interesting, now let’s cut to the chase…why is recess and physical activity important in the school system?
CKE focuses on Recess Enhancement for socio-emotional development and we choose to do so through physical activity. Research supports that physical activity has a myriad of health benefits and now is showing that there are positive cognitive outcomes too. My research also showed it has socio-emotional benefits as well.
In my work with children with learning disabilities and behavioral problems physical activity act school is sometimes seen as the problem; we work to make the case that this problem is the solution even in the classroom (www.EyesOpenMinds.com) . We provide professional development with classroom, arts, and physical education teachers (see Banishing Bullying article see link on site). CKE Dances! Our arts in the schools program includes Performing Peace: Including the Bully, Dancing with the Brain in Mind, among other programs for engaging students in movement during the day.
With less and less spontaneous play time and spaces after school it is MORE important to include movement, physical education, dance and sports at school. Don Hellison is a pioneer and leader in this work. I list many other resources at http://www.EmbodyPeace.org
4. What do you consider the major issues regarding recess and physical activity in the school environment?
The need for more time spent engaged in physical activity for recreation/recuperation AND for the learning process itself – learning by doing really means learning by moving.
5. How are you and (fill in your organization that you wish to promote) attempting to rectify these issues and what are some of the major obstacles that you have encountered/continue to encounter?
There are many ways we hope to keep kids moving. You can sample a diversity of inroads on our resources and articles pages of www.WellnessCKE.net
Funding for Project Arts no longer exists, funding for arts ed and physical Ed is being reduced.
Not enough research backing up the need for movement to help in the development of the brain (SMART MOVES Carla Hannaford), the development of emotional intelligence (Dan Goleman; Eddy, M. The Role of Physical Activity in Educational Violence Prevention for Youth, UMI Press), and in aesthetic development (yes having an aesthetic sense is important!).
6. Interesting! Now if someone were interested in learning more regarding the subject of recess and physical activity in the school environment what resources would you recommend? How does one become involved?
Learn from these organizations
and the various play advocacy groups that exists
CUNY also provides an In Defense of Play/Childhood conference biennially.
7. Thank you for your insightful comments, but before we conclude this interview do you have any closing remarks?
Your efforts are much appreciated.
Recess is necessary not only for children but for adults as well. Open play time is important for all humans – we come up with our best ideas when we are relaxed yet engaged, especially with others or with the natural environment. Check out the Economics of Happiness to learn more about how we interact culturally and physically can support economic and political aspects of society as well.
Here is one resource for adults who have been challenged and unable to exercise – www.MovingforLife.org