Not a Waste of Time: Scheduling Non-academic Learning Activities Into the School Day

Abstract

With urban Title I schools under pressure to improve students’ academic performance, it is unusual to see non-academic learning opportunities scheduled during the school day. Through the example of one elementary school that is willing to schedule time for students and teachers to engage in yoga practice together, the research found that valuable learning occurs during yoga practice that is carried over into the academic classroom. Using ethnographic methods over a 4-year period, researchers observed in a second, third, and fourth grade class before, during, and after yoga instruction. The study found that important non-academic learning takes place during yoga instruction, specifically developing focus, perseverance, and positive relationships, and that this learning carries over into the academic classroom. The study concludes that the learning that takes place during yoga instruction is best treated as a social process involving a community of practice (Lave and Wenger in Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991; Wenger in Communities of practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998) comprised of the yoga instructor, classroom teacher, and students, and that institutional support for non-academic learning experiences deepens student learning.

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Correspondence to Christine Finnan.

Additional information

Some of the quotes used in this paper already appear in “Getting on the mat: Teachers and students engaging in yoga together” Childhood Education, vol. 9, (in press). This article focuses on the importance of teachers and students practicing yoga together.

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Finnan, C. Not a Waste of Time: Scheduling Non-academic Learning Activities Into the School Day. Urban Rev 47, 26–44 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-014-0286-5

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Keywords

  • Social learning
  • Non-academic learning
  • Yoga practice
  • Communities of practice
  • Urban elementary schools