Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations

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Education Through School Sport
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Globe story on physical literacy

Wednesday, September, 3, 2014

OFSAA's motto "Education Through School Sport" is all about the connection between physical literacy and success in the classroom. The skills learned on the field and the life lessons learned off of it through sport are an invaluable and inseparable part of secondary school education.

A study completed last year by Rob Williamson of the University of Ottawa concluded that student-athletes scored higher in specific developmental areas than those students who do not participate in athletics.

As schools reopen their doors to students for the 2014-15 school year, the Globe and Mail's Erin Anderssen wrote an article titled, "How physical exercise helps to get students intellectually fit," which has been exerpted below. Click here for the full story.

"To prep for high-school life, incoming Grade 9 students paid an early visit to Midland Secondary on Thursday. They found where their lockers will be, were given their timetables and memorized their wireless passwords.

They also received a short session on the importance of exercise. But intellectual – not physical – fitness was the theme. They learned that classes at this 100-year-old school in Georgian Bay’s cottage country don’t just mean sitting at desk. Here, studying everything from history to calculus also includes soccer in the hallway, ultimate Frisbee in the yard, even “swimming” across the floor – some of the brief workouts known as Spark breaks.

Classes last 75 minutes, but “I really find it hard to sit for 10 minutes, to be honest,” admits Walker Hunter, a Grade 10 student who was helping to demonstrate floor swimming and other activities at the orientation. During a fitness break, he says, “you get refreshed, but you’re still in work mode, and you can start up again. It gives me time to get out and refocus.”

Getting students to focus is a perennial preoccupation, but it seems especially pressing at the moment, with grade-obsessed parents, politicians and school trustees wringing their hands over Canada’s recent slide in international math standings.

With that worry back in the news this week when Ontario’s elementary math scores took a dip, neuroscience offers this subversive solution: Cut math class to dance – or walk, skip, play catch … the theory being that whatever gets the heart pumping will get the brain humming as well.

“If you want to raise test scores, we have documented evidence – big-time evidence – that that the key is to include fitness-based activity in the day,” insists John Ratey, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and a lead researcher in the area. “There’s no question about it.”

Welcome back teacher-coaches and student-athletes!