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Walk While You Work

Walk While you Work

As we near the end of the school year, it is not uncommon to see students’ creative thinking take an early vacation. In most classrooms May brings about eyes that wander to the windows, teacher posed questions that are met with blank stares, and journals that are adorned with doodles. For teachers this is a frustrating reality given that the end of the year marks a time for student assessments and staff reflection on growth. Having myself taught, I can recall a number of planning periods spent attempting to figure out how to rekindle my students ‘creative talents. As the instructional days slip away, it can feel like a daunting task, but in actuality it might be as simple as taking a walk.

Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz from Stanford University recently published an article in the Journal for Experimental Psychology entitled “Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking.” Oppezzo and Schwartz conducted four experiments that showed that the act of walking boosts creativity. After walking on a treadmill participants in the study exhibited an increase in analogical creativity. The participants’ ideas were noted to be greater in quantity and more novel in quality. Not only did they find that going for a walk boosts creativity immediately following the act, but the effect lingers for some time after the activity.

Allowing students time to walk at school is a quick and easy way to boost the dwindling levels of creative thinking (see previous post) that we see, especially during the slide into summer break. It could be as simple as taking the class to the gym to do a buddy walk, going for a nature walk around the school grounds or allowing for more individualized movement in and around the school. Don’t limit the walking to students—remember teachers’ creative thinking is important to nurture as well. Taking a walk to the teacher’s lounge to get a glass of water or walking down the hall to say hello to a colleague before the morning bell are just a couple of ways to sneak in a walk while at work.

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