November 08, 2010
Can workouts help produce smarter kids? Chris Cooper has a study lined up to answer that question.
Imagine a drug that would put you 33 percent ahead of your peers, nationwide, on standardized tests, a pill that would give you a full two months’ head start, every year, on every other student. It’s out there: it’s called Learning Readiness PE. Mostly, kids just call it exercise.
There’s a slowing process happening in our schools. While other countries surge ahead, kids in America just aren’t keeping up. In fact, according to the NAEP 2008 Trends in Academic Progress study, high-school students haven’t improved their test scores since they started being tracked—in 1971. If this were any other epidemic, our response would be immediate and dramatic.
Swine flu? Buy duct tape and tarps! Avian flu? Wear breathing masks on the subways! Obesity? Uh eat more grains? Failure to improve at maths and sciences um. The collective shrug of the health bureaucracies is startling. That’s what prompted Paul Zientarski to try something different: exercise. But what he learned—and what we all learned—was a shock.