Love to sink into your chairs and relax when you get to school? Then you will not be thrilled to hear that schools all over the world are seriously considering swapping out conventional desks for ones with no seats at all - Yes, that means you will be encouraged to stand through those already excruciatingly long, math and science sessions! But before you get all nervous, there will be movable stools available for those that are unable or unwilling, to stay on their feet for the entire school day.
So why would anyone even think of subjecting kids to such cruelty? Experts say it improves their health and helps fight obesity. While that may seem a little far-fetched the officials at the few schools around the world that have or are currently experimenting with the stand "biased" desks appear to concur.
Among them are educators from the College Station Independent School District in Texas, who recently completed a week-long experiment involving 480 students across three elementary schools. The 374 kids that agreed to participate in the study were provided a sensor that helped record step count and calorie expenditure over the entire period.
According to A&M associate professor Michael Benden, who published the results of the study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health on September 10th, the raised desks helped kids burn 15% more calories than a control group using traditional sitting desks. The team attributes this to the fact that the standing desks encourages natural movement among kids and therefore helps expand additional energy.
While that was encouraging, what was even more so is that all 25 teachers involved in the study, reported that students appeared to be more alert and concentrate better, when allowed to stand. The one thing that did surprise the researchers was that younger kids were more willing to stay standing then kids in older grades. They believe this may have to with the fact that after years of being asked to "sit still," older kids have a harder time adjusting to this unexpected freedom.
American schools are not the only ones reporting success with stand-up desks. Four Catholic schools in Perth, Australia, which have been testing them since October 2013, have seen similar results. In May 2014, Grove House Primary School in Bradford, West Yorkshire, became Europe's first test venue, with a seven-week trial that involved the use of desks manufactured by Ergotron in their fifth-grade classrooms. While official results are not out yet, initial reactions from both teachers and students, have been extremely encouraging.
The findings of these studies and others done previously, all seem to indicate that allowing kids to move around in classrooms is a win-win for students and teachers - it helps kids get healthier and provides educators with a more engaged audience. This according to Michael Benden, "should serve as an incentive for schools to invest in altering their standard for classroom furniture to stand-biased modifications."
Even though teachers and experts have been performing studies on these desks since 2009, there is still more research needed before everyone is convinced. There is also the issue of how cash-strapped schools would be able to fund the new furniture. However, the sentiment certainly appears to be swaying in that direction - so enjoy your uncomfortable classroom chairs while you can!
Resources: fastcoexist.com, dailymail.co.uk, au.ibtimes.com