Sitting Up Straight and Taking Notice
Walking around the streets of New York, an observant lover of this city cannot help but notice the overwhelming number of people who slouch. As a contrast, Native Europeans, Asians and Africans can be identified by their straight backs.
Much of this poor posture might be encouraged by the “sitting on the floor teaching” that prevails in schools all over America. The children are taught the letters of the alphabet and listen to stories while they are seated uncomfortably on the floor. What is supposed to be cozy is often tiring for them. So they slouch or sit back-to-back, supporting each other.
Why not let them sit at desks that face the blackboard with feet firmly on the floor, hips comfortably back in their chairs, arms on their desks, ready for work? That old-fashioned admonition to “sit up straight” gives one more energy and ability to pay attention.
Facing the blackboard allows the students to see the letters, say their sounds and write them simultaneously. Facing the blackboard also helps prevent letter and words reversals as the children put the letters into words and write them.
There are many occasions when the students can work on projects together in history, geography and science, but learning to read is not one of them. Sitting at desks that face each other, or at round tables, provides too many opportunities to see letters and numbers upside-down and backside-to, which causes problems in reading, writing and even math.
As the new school year begins, let’s try to make the children more comfortable, and allow them to really participate and learn.#
Sandra Priest Rose is a founding Trustee of Reading Reform Foundation of New York.