What are we teaching our children when we expect them (even those without disabilities) to do what they are developmentally and physically not ready for. Children are active creatures. It is how they interact with the universe: they fidget, dance like no one is watching, wave their hands wildly when they talk. It only makes sense that a standing desk can help burn off some of that energy and give students a new way to interact with their studies.
I am hooked on this idea. Maybe it should be part of the stimulus package: A new jobs bill for mom and dad; and a standing desk for every student. Obviously, for students who cannot stand or prefer to sit, traditional desks should still be available.
I did an unscientific study of about 30 high school freshmen. I showed them a picture of the standing desk and stool and asked which they would prefer. ALL of them wanted the standing desk. I really do understand.
I was a great “fidgiter” in school; still am. I am forever clicking and swirling pens, shaking my leg, rapping fingers on a table, toe tapping, playing with the phone cord, doodling, playing with phone settings, and losing hours playing Bookworm. I cannot just watch television, I must be typing, or playing a game, or wrestling the dog or some other thing. It drives my husband crazy when we are lying in bed and I pull up the laptop to check mail or play scrabble, while we are watching Keith or Rachael. He asks, “Did you see/hear that?” I say “yes” and give him a short synopsis to prove I was listening. I am writing this now, as we are driving to
Why is sitting to learn the educational standard? What kinds of adults are we raising if we tell them that they must sit with their hands in their laps? My second purely unscientific analysis in this blog is as the industrial age belched onto the scene, employers wanted workers to be docile, obedient, and follow orders. They wanted workers to sit and do repetitive tasks without leaving their station. Sitting in school facilitated all of that and the education system trained the students the way the industry wanted.
Before the industrial revolution (I actually did a little research), standing desks were common. Think “The Christmas Carol.” Both Bob and Ebenezer stood while doing their bookwork. They had stools they could use if they needed to rest a bit but mainly they stood. For two centuries, (18th & 19th), standing desks graced the homes and offices of the rich. Only the poor had to sit and slouch.
The study of ergonomics is a field of study that grew mainly because of sitting; time spent working on computers, driving, watching television and repetitive motion. Ergonomic experts analyze the way we work, and how we can do so more effectively and with less stress. Here is what one website on the subject had to say about stand-up desks:
It turns out that the stand-up desks of history are extremely good for reducing injury. Standing doesn't allow the leaning and slouching that is possible in a seated position, your back and neck remain straighter, and a properly positioned monitor allows users to look straight ahead, minimizing neck movement and strain.
Working while standing does provide more energy, and eliminates the afternoon doldrums almost entirely - in fact, some proponents use their stand up desks only in the afternoons, finding that sitting through the morning appeals to them.
Adults without known disabilities were the focus of this study. It appears to me that something as simple as a stand-up desk could actually save a child’s academic career if it works for him/her.
It’s IEP Season
As parents and children get ready to develop plans for students who fidgit or become easily distracted, consider a standing desk. They are rather cheap at about $250 each. However, before buying a desk consider these “trials.”
Cinderblocks – They are cheap and versatile. Use cinderblocks, bricks, or wooden blocks to lift a conventional desk. Ask a janitor or handyperson to build a little jig for the rocking arm.
Podiums are ready-made workspaces for standing. Borrow one from a church, convention center and see what happens. Most students will need more room than a traditional podium; but it can give an IEP team some idea if it will work.
Stools give students the option to rest tired feet if they want to, but they still have the option of the fidget bar. Did I mention I love the fidget bar?
Probably the oddest thing about my new standing desk fetish is that I could never use one. I can only stand for a few minutes without extreme leg pain.
However, I am not thinking about me, I am thinking about all those children (me included) who year after hear from their teachers that their behavior is disruptive, that they do not pay attention, and they are not compliant. They hear it so often they give up and drop out.
I do not know how I am going to do it; but I have decided I am going to become a one-woman zealot about standing desks.
If you want to learn more, Google, “standing school desk”. There’s a wealth of information and also places to buy them.