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Can giving pupils standing desks help concentration and health?

Education

Can giving pupils standing desks help concentration and health?

What started off as something slightly faddish in the workplace is beginning to be increasingly normal as more and more offices, especially those where staff do mostly computer-based work, are giving their team standing desks.

But could it work for pupils? Some schools are trying it out, to try and find if it can help with some health problems, especially the growing issue of obesity, and aid concentration.

Schools in the US, the UK Australia and New Zealand are all giving it a try and all are noting significant improvements, even in the short term, in energy and concentration levels. Sitting down for long periods have shown negative impacts on concentration and behaviour, while having a less sedentary approach improves the general level of fitness and lessens the chances of diabetes in later life.

As students become increasingly reliant on digital tools for their education, the issues around a workstation become more important. And the work habits gained in early life will continue into adulthood.

When it works, the standing desk will:

  • Give pupils more energy – keep the blood flowing and the mind alert. It’s harder to fall asleep at your desk if you’re standing. Unless you’re a horse, but that’s unlikely.
  • Early on though, pupils will find it tiring. Sore feet and legs for those not used to the constant standing. Be ready for some whining, especially for those without the most comfortable shoes. Fatigue mats would be useful, but are unlikely to be in the budget.
  • Improves posture and core strength – issues that can be especially problematic for those who might otherwise be hunched over a laptop.
  • But that does necessitate adjustable standing desks. Pupils grow at different rates, so allow a bit of faffing at the start of each lesson as students alter the height of their desks.
  • More engaged. It’s easier to join in class discussions when standing up. There’s more visibility and increased engagement.
  • It may not work for every lesson. Science lessons, perhaps, with experiments going on, may benefit from the enforced discipline of seated pupils 

While the fatigue issue can be a real one and it may not work for every type of lesson, it’s worth considering – while much of the evidence is too anecdotal to be conclusive, the indications are that it might be a significant change to the classroom.

 

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