To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Monday, May 16, 2022


Bring Back Recess



Sharon MartinHunter College Elementary in New York City won’t enroll you unless your IQ is 155 or higher. A study from the 1980s followed young Hunter geniuses. Thirty years out, most had good jobs. Some had graduate degrees. But there were no Nobel winners or Pulitzers.

As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in a psychology conference speech, “These were genius kids but they were not genius adults.”

Oklahoma legislators insist that all the state’s kids be fluent readers by the end of third grade or be held back. Children don’t all start to school with the same exposure to literature or the same vocabulary.

Some will be eligible for Hunter. Some will be hungry, scared, or abused. Oklahoma teachers will be required to get them all to the same place at the same time or suffer the consequences.

Every child deserves the best education possible, whether he’s a turtle or a hare. And we want kids not only to be able to read but to want to read.

We will get there by sharing the joy of literature, by giving young readers the time and space to savor books, not in pushing them to read too far too fast.

The research shows “little if any correlation between early reading and ease or love of reading at later ages.” As Gladwell says, “We don’t say that someone who learned to walk at four months is a better walker than the rest of us.”

Reading is important. So is recess.

According to researchers at UC-Berkeley, there is a “strong relationship between social-emotional learning and cognitive development and performance.” Empathy, imagination, and the ability of kids to create their own play and solve their own conflicts are developed on the playground and are essential to their future success.

Drilling for hours a day, whether it’s in math or in finding the main idea, won’t necessarily make our kids smarter. They don’t have to be reading college texts at 10 or writing memoirs at six.

This forced marched to adulthood makes no sense when the human brain takes its own sweet time maturing. Kids will learn at their own pace if we let them.

It is our job, as parents and teachers, to provide motivation and a good learning environment. That includes good stories and the time to enjoy them. It also includes recess and a safe place to play.

Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer 


  1. Its not only unrealistic but ridiculous to expect all children to progress at the same rate. Just because some children might be quicker at learning, it does not mean they are smarter than others. Children all learn at their own pace and that does not determine their intelligence or chances of future success. The child who learns at a slower pace is just as capable of doing great things in their life as the next.
    I believe forcing all children to read at the same fast pace is a contributing factor to so many adults who do not enjoy reading at all. We need to foster a love for reading in our children today so that they still enjoy doing it tomorrow.
    We need to let children be children. They are only going to learn so much in a day before they get disinterested and start misbehaving. Let the kids burn some energy on the playground more often. Doing this would not only help keep their attention span in class, it would lower the amount of children needing to be on ADHD medicine and childhood obesity.

  2. I agree, our children need the best education they can receive. I dont agree with the Oklahoma legislators on the children needing to be fluent readers by third grade, Every child is different and learns in a different way. One may be a fast learner and another child may need a little more time. My 4 year old is in pre-k and has to know how to spell and write his last name and draw every shape by the end of the school year for the testing they give the kids. It makes me feel they think our childern are “slow” when they arent, they are just as smart as the other students who can do these things. I agree that children should be encourged to read books, that is my job is a perent to read to my son daily and help him to learn. I agree that children need reccess as much as learning, get them out and run around, play. Sitting in a classroom all day will not help them.As parents its our job is help our children learn, and provide a good learning enviroment for them.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.