Tag Archives: BBC

Stand and Deliver: We Think Better on Our Feet — Literally

Did you see the post from ScienceDaily a couple of months ago? As it turns out, we think better when we’re on our feet. Maybe more importantly though, given how much we tend to sit throughout the day, standing is a good way to change things up (and standing is actually better for us than siting).

This study looked at standing desks in the context of education. In particular, with regard to elementary school-aged children. Given the epidemic of obesity, particularly in America, it certainly seems like a good idea to try and tackle an issue at one of the roots (sitting). While we already know that as a general rule, standing is better than sitting, the researchers were interested in how this would affect the academic performance of students. The results obtained indicate that there are no adverse effects on engagement for those students who were standing. Translation: standing desks don’t negatively affect academic engagement. Wonderful!

Of course, the researchers make it clear that this applied to the sample they studied (about 300 students of 2nd-, 3rd-, and 4th-grade age, from three schools in one suburban school district), and that there’ll need to be replication. The thing that I’m most curious about moving forward is different ages. In particular, older students. I presume that there’d be similar effects found in 6th and 7th grade and for teenagers as well, but it’d be great to see this confirmed with data.

Why stop at high school, though. It’d also be great to see this for university students. I suppose you can see where I’m going with this, right?

Whenever I go to a conference or a talk somewhere, there are almost always a handful of people who can’t bear to sit through the whole thing and it’s not because of a lack of engagement from the speaker. It’s probably a combination of factors, but what if it’s also because they find that they (the audience members of the talk) can be more engaged when they’re standing in the back of the room (or off to the side)? And if, as adults, we think that we’re better engaged in what the speaker is saying when we’re standing, why don’t we also offer that same option to our kids?

ResearchBlogging.orgDornhecker, M., Blake, J., Benden, M., Zhao, H., & Wendel, M. (2015). The effect of stand-biased desks on academic engagement: an exploratory study International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 1-10 DOI: 10.1080/14635240.2015.1029641

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I’ll Be Ready in 300 Seconds…

“I’ll be ready in 5 minutes…”

“Be there in 5…”

“I’m almost ready — give me 5 more minutes…”

How many times have we heard someone say 5 minutes only to have them take triple that time? A very specific measurement (5 minutes) — in my experience — has lost a great deal of its validity. That is, our understanding of 5 minutes is not universal. Five minutes to you is not always 5 minutes to me — but you’re saying to me, “this makes no sense!” Indeed. It doesn’t. And it shouldn’t. “Five minutes” is empirical. It is something we can measure. It has a specific ending. Though, it is rarely used in its proper form.

Michio Kaku had a great series on time for the BBC a few years back and one of those episodes had to do with daytime. In it, Kaku explores the concept and experience of time (on a small scale). He also explores it from the perspective of “life” time, “Earth” time, and “cosmic” time. If you get a chance, I highly recommend watching it. Back to 5 minutes, though.

As I said earlier, part of the problem with using the term “5 minutes” is because we all have a different relationship to time. Some people come from countries that are more polychronic, while others come from countries that are more monochronic. Typically, those who come from cultures that are polychronic tend to have a more fluid understanding of (and relationship to) time. Conversely, those who come from cultures that are monochronic cultures tend to have a more rigid and precise understanding of (and relationship to) time.

As a result, it is my supposition that when folks who come from contrasting cultures (with regard to time), there is bound to be a misunderstanding when using “5 minutes” as a term of measurement.

As a way around this — sometimes — I like to use the term “300 seconds.” Why 300 seconds? Well, 300 seconds is the same amount of time as 5 minutes. (Weird, eh?) But it sounds different, doesn’t it? Similarly, if I’m going to need more than 5 minutes, say 10 minutes, I might say 600 seconds. Of course, if we all start using “seconds” as a more frequent term of measurement (in this way), the same problem is likely to occur. Although, until then, I just may have a unique advantage in communicating as it relates to time.

Aren’t We All Just Baby Chicks Following a Mother Hen?

Because of where I live, I have the great fortune of being able to look out my window and see an abundance of roosters. And because of this abundance of roosters, undoubtedly, there are a number of baby chicks. These baby chicks don’t just wander aimlessly across the lawn looking for food or something to do. These baby chicks, instead, are quite deliberate in their actions. In fact, these baby chicks follow around the mother hen. Partially, because their life depends upon it. Maybe not where I live, but in some parts of the world, if a baby chick strays to far from momma, it’s likely to be another creature’s tasty snack.

As I watched these baby chicks following the mother hen, I looked a little closer at their actions. I wanted to see why it was they were following mother around. From what I was able to gather, these baby chicks are following mother around because they’re safer (read: ), but more than that, mother hen shows them what’s foot and what’s not food. This may have been some sort of anomaly, but from the dozens of  minutes I was able to watch (on different days), the hens would go to an area of the lawn and then call the chicks over to where she was (usually a distance of mere away). The mother hen would then begin pecking away at the grass (or something on the lawn) and the baby chicks would follow suit.

I soon learned, just from watching, that this was how the baby chicks were able to eat. Either the mom was helping to pull something up out of the ground or she was identifying what was nutritious for the baby chicks. The mother hen would vary her time in how long she spent in an area. When she left one area, some of the baby chicks would immediately follow her, while others, remained behind (to pick-up the scraps?) As I continued to watch the dynamics of the situation, I began to be able to notice parallels to the news of society.

The different big-branded news corporations (, , , , , etc.) are all like mother hens and us, the viewers, are like baby chicks. When one of these news conglomerates reports on a story, immediately, our attention is drawn to that area of the world. When one of the mother hens calls the baby chicks attention to one area of the lawn, immediately, that is where their attention goes. The chicks run over to see what’s happening. Like the baby chicks, the viewers become immediately concerned with whatever is being reported to them.

When a reporter or hen talks about a certain story, they are drawing your attention to that story. Unintentionally or not, they are also drawing your attention away from any other story that they could have reported on. As the reporter moves onto another story the next day, some viewers move onto the next story with them, while some viewers stay enveloped in “yesterday’s news.” Sometimes, this is for good (maybe their favorite team won a big game) and sometimes it’s maybe for not so good reasons (?)

Being able to watch these baby chicks follow around the mother hen allowed me to see something that is played out in society time and time again. Somebody (the hen) says xyz is important, so instantly, everyone else (the baby chicks) buy-in to the story to see just what xyz about. My point in this story about the hen and the baby chicks is that all of us, in one way or another, is following around a hen. Whether we watch the news on any particular station, read about news on the internet, or get our news from our friends. Regardless, our attention is being drawn to a story (more times than not) because someone said it was important. I think it is paramount to remember that had we been following a different hen, our views, beliefs, and ideas about the world would likely be completely different.