Any adult of a certain age (cough) can tell you about recess at school. I remember having three recesses – two quick 15 minute excursions outside in the morning and afternoon, and about 30 minutes or so at lunch.

Occasionally you’d get in trouble and have to sit on a square – but you were still outside. At the time, it seemed obvious that sending kids outside for breaks helped them learn. There was no science needed to discuss it – it was just universally accepted that recess was important.

But then, something happened. I’m not sure when (although some attribute it to increased high-stakes testing), but when I asked kids about recess recently, I got a lot of blank looks. When I first started asking about it, I thought maybe they used a different word now – after all, we don’t call pipe cleaners pipe cleaners anymore, and sitting Indian style has become “criss cross applesauce” or something. I’m elderly, so maybe there’s another name for recess, right? Maybe they call it “outdoor learning,” or “physical matriculation” or “a hard reset” or some other newfangled phrase that means “send the kids outside and let them have a learning break.” (more…)