Time Off For Attentive Behavior
The Finnish way of schooling kids -- 45 minutes of schoolwork followed by a 15-minute break -- seems to make for more attentive students in class.
Tim Walker, an American who taught school in Helsinki, writes at The Atlantic of how Finland keeps kids focused through free play:
I didn't see the point of these frequent pit stops. As a teacher in the United States, I'd spent several consecutive hours with my students in the classroom. And I was trying to replicate this model in Finland. The Finnish way seemed soft and I was convinced that kids learned better with longer stretches of instructional time. So I decided to hold my students back from their regularly scheduled break and teach two 45-minute lessons in a row, followed by a double break of 30 minutes. Now I knew why the red dots had appeared on Sami's forehead.
Come to think of it, I wasn't sure if the American approach had ever worked very well. My students in the States had always seemed to drag their feet after about 45 minutes in the classroom. But they'd never thought of revolting like this shrimpy Finnish fifth grader, who was digging in his heels on the third day of school. At that moment, I decided to embrace the Finnish model of taking breaks.
Once I incorporated these short recesses into our timetable, I no longer saw feet-dragging, zombie-like kids in my classroom. Throughout the school year, my Finnish students would--without fail--enter the classroom with a bounce in their steps after a 15-minute break. And most importantly, they were more focused during lessons.
At first, I was convinced that I had made a groundbreaking discovery: frequent breaks kept students fresh throughout the day. But then I remembered that Finns have known this for years; they've been providing breaks to their students since the 1960s.
Research by Anthony Pelligrini seems to confirm this.
I'm wondering if I should incorporate this into my writing life. I already take naps -- about 15 to 25 minutes of nappiness every three or four hours. But maybe a walk around the block with Aida between writing jags would make me more productive.