Education Reformation:My Beef

I recently started a short series on Education Reformation in America.  This entry is part two.  Part one can be found here.   

During part one of this series, I discussed my irritation with the rewards system practiced by many teachers.  I gave an example of an elementary teacher I knew, who generously dolled out candy for every good thing a child did.  I am going to discuss her again, because there is information that I refrained from mentioning last time:  She weighed at least 300 pounds.  She was an extremely heavy lady who waddled when she walked and could hardly fit through many of the doorways.  This is not me picking on her or trying to objectify her.  I am honestly concerned that she was passing on her bad eating habits to her students.  She could have rewarded her students with cheap toys from the dollar store or made it into a creative game by rewarding points that would go to a bigger prize at the end of the year.  I, personally, still wouldn’t have liked it, as it would still be bribing kids to be good, but it would have been healthier.  But, as I said last time, this teacher is not alone.  Why is it that here in America we always seem to equate children with candy?  Now, I am not so much of a health freak that I would forbid kids having treats.  But we’re dealing with school.  As an educator, this teacher should have known better.  You can’t give a child a candy bar and then expect him to sit still and concentrate on his math.  You just pumped his body with sugar.  He can’t physically concentrate!!   And if you’re willing to give kids all that extra sugar, what are you doing to help them burn it off? 

Another health factor that concerns me is school lunch programs.  Its junk that should not be put into kids’ bodies.  In my old high school, the peanut butter was runny. You could literally pick up the spoon and drizzle it onto your bread.  What did the cooks do to make it this way?  They poured oil into it.  I kid you not.  The stuff was drenched in vegetable oil to make it go farther.  That is beyond disgusting.  I know funds can be tight, but oily peanut butter?  There is an initiative taking place in our country to make school’s healthier (thankfully).  Most schools now have salad bars and healthy alternatives.  But schools are still cutting corners.  My old high school had a salad bar…but it was filled with white lettuce.  For those of you who aren’t caught up on your health info: vegetables need to be colorful.  The darker green your lettuce, the more nutrition in it.  The same goes for other vegetables: bright orange for carrots, deep red for beets, etc.  So if you’re eating white lettuce…why?  If you are going to eat something that isn’t actually helping your body, you might as well find something that actually tastes good!  It would make as much sense to eat a candy bar for lunch than white lettuce.  (Okay, not quite.  But the principle is the same.)

There are two reasons I’m rambling on like a health-freak right now, but they really go hand-in-hand.  The first: food affects both your brain and body.  The healthier you eat, the better you will perform in class.  The second: childhood obesity in America has risen to epidemic proportions.  But you are talking about various kids from different backgrounds and family situations whose only common factor is that they attend public schools.  Now, some kids will have weight problems biologically and some by their own destructive choices.  Either way, all of these kids are being fed eating choices by our government.  Thanks, Uncle Sam!

The human body needs good food and exercise in order to thrive properly.  Giving your body the opposite–bad food and little activity–creates obesity.  When you are overweight, your body and mind slows down, you can become somewhat lethargic and you tire easily.  Your performance in school will suffer.  Now, does this mean that people who are overweight are not smart, intelligent individuals?  Not necessarily.   One of the smartest kids in my high school class was  slightly overweight.  But if he was that intelligent when he was unhealthy…what amazing mind powers could he have released on a decent diet?  What remarkable things could he have contributed to the world had he been able to flourish?  There have to be more Einsteins out there somewhere, waiting to be given the ability to use their minds.  We need to find people smart enough to discover a cure for cancer!  (Although, FYI, your chances of getting cancer can be significantly reduced by a healthy lifestyle.  I’ve actually heard of people completely reversing their cancer by eating an all-natural diet.  Whether or not that’s believable is yours to decide.)

I have set myself up during this post to be accused of objectifying people and stereotyping, getting labeled a “health freak” and much more.  The truth is, I am not trying to do any of that.  I am all about personal freedoms.  Your body is yours.  Put what you like inside it.  That goes for the kids in our schools as well.  I am completely okay with teens running up to Pizza Hut or McDonalds or KFC after school and completely pigging out.  The heart attack will be there’s to deal with.  Personally, I prefer healthier alternatives, but I am far from being a health “nut.”  Last night I pigged out on pizza and chocolate and I have had so much coffee in the past  24 hours (including a cup now, as I type this) that my body is running on strictly caffeine.  I may be a healthy weight, but I’m not “fit.”  My body could stand a good toning.  The last time I was properly “in shape” was probably when I was 7 years old.  So please believe me when I say that this isn’t me pushing my ideals on others.  This is about the kids.

Our school’s only objective is to educate kids.  Anything that hampers education needs to be removed from the school system (like when school food courts invite fast-food joints to sell their products.   Ya, get rid of that.)  Anything that boosts education needs to be encouraged and, if possible, added to our school systems (One period in High School specifically for working out and required among all grades.)  

So, I’ve talked quite abit about this problem, but not given any specific solutions.  There’s a reason for that.  We know that fresh beans, instead of processed canned beans, are better for our kids.  We know that grilling our meat instead of frying it is better, as well.  And we love our kids.  If we didn’t feel trapped into giving them this crap, we wouldn’t.  But healthy food is expensive.  Very expensive.  And our country just doesn’t have any money right now.  Funds are tight…and that is tomorrow’s post.

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