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Such thing as too much energy in a classroom?

pbernal's picture

We didn't have quite enough time for me to bring this up in class, but I'm really interested to know what you guys think of the following situation...

Most schools if not all tell teach their students to stand and walk in perfect lines, to sit straight in their desks, to put their hands behind their backs, to not speak unless given permission. Authoritive and controlling we apppear to children when shouldn't we be embracing their innocense and let their energy flow not strain?

Teachers complain to parents about their kids having too much energy, but why do schools make it seem like such a bad thing? 

Has anyone else thought about this?


Student 24's picture

Green, yellow, red lights

I supposed the straightforward answer has to do with staying organised and productive in an efficient manner, in which lesson plans and school curricula can only follow through when the student-teacher-administration system operates smoothly.

In elementary school, I think in most grades, we had some variation upon green, yellow, and red "lights" or "zones", which would be a chart hanging up on the wall. In the morning we all started out with our name cards in the green zone, and if we were warned about misbehaving, we'd move to yellow, and if we continued misbehaving, we went to red. I went to yellow a number of times, and it wasn't the shame of having my misbevahiour displayed for the whole class to see, but rather, I felt immensely sorry for disappointing and letting down my teacher. That's me, personally. I've always sought the best relationships or friendships with my teachers, and I didn't ever want to become the student who gets into trouble.

I mostly got into trouble because I talked with everyone too much. But I've always loved schools and classrooms and teachers and textbooks. I was good at operating in this system and environment. I felt safe when everything was in order, in terms of its operation.

As elementary school moved to middle and then to high school, classes became more about discussion and critical thinking and expressing our own opinions and learning to argue them well. This space functioned well, at least for me, because I felt safe and knew how to control and operate myself in a classroom environment. I wonder if classrooms for young children could even operate like this... Can a group of 25 nine-year-olds sit in a circle and effectively discuss things or share their ideas? I'm not saying that as children we don't have wonderful and complex and profound ideas - we most certainly do... But do we have enough material about the world? Have we yet learned enough at those ages? Aren't the beginning years of school for collecting knowledge into the basket that is the brain, and then in that basket, the knowledge merges with our ideas, thoughts, and theories about the world around us?

I'm not picking a side and saying either a controlling or liberal classroom environment is good or bad. I'm just speculating on the function of education and schooling at different levels. Then, of course, we get into the questions of only knowing our own educational experiences, and we can only know what works and what doesn't work for us individually based on through what we've already gone so far...

I hope we can all continue a discussion here!