Part Two: What have I learned? (so far)

a continuation from Part One

4) Kids don’t get enough time to eat and to run around. As one reader noted, no matter how good the food is you can’t eat it in 20 minutes or less. At my school it’s 20 minutes for lunch including lining up and throwing it out. And no recess?! That bothers me too. I have a feeling that this will change because it’s the right thing to do. Personally, I don’t mind if it’s a longer school day; I’m devoting my career to kids so it’s a no brainer (Readers, thanks for reminding me of this one — what a “duh” moment that I forgot to include it in the original list).

Life lessons

1) Many times over the course of my life, I have heard Margaret Mead quoted, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” One person can make a difference. When I think about what the blog has done in six months, I can’t believe it. My life will never be the same. I hope that you can find some inspiration in my actions as well.

2) Do the important stuff first. I have had to be more organized than you can imagine. But my family and of course my job always have come first. Then the blog. What is surprising — I have more time than I thought. It’s amazing how much time I was “wasting” before.

3) I value food more. What I’m eating at home (and at restaurants) has not changed dramatically, but how I think about food has. I care about what I eat. Sustenance has taken on new shades of meaning. Food is life.

4) My confidence has increased. I believe that any time a person takes a risk, it’s a new opportunity for personal growth. Although I have might have put my job and some friendships on the line by undertaking the project, I feel better about myself as a person because it’s for the greater good.

5) I feel better about humanity. I’ve always loved to hear people’s stories especially those stories that are underrepresented in our world. I can guarantee you that every child in my school has a story to tell and I love hearing about their lives, their family constellations, and what they enjoy doing every day. When readers comment and share their perspectives about school lunch, life, and their childhoods, I feel better about this world. School lunches will get better for kids if there are this many concerned adults.

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10 Responses to Part Two: What have I learned? (so far)

  1. Alex @ IEatAsphalt June 21, 2010 at 1:18 am #

    I just came across your blog from a Grist article. I think what you did this school year is amazing. Some of your posts are so shocking to me. I truly cannot believe that this is how government and tax dollars are being spent. I can only imagine what would happen if the First Lady read your blog, or every parent with a child in grade-school. Great work!

  2. Joy June 21, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    What a lovely post! It has lifted up my faith in humanity a couple of notches just by reading it!
    Cheers, and Thanks!

  3. Stepshep June 21, 2010 at 4:07 am #

    "I have a feeling that this will change because it's morally right." Your faith in others make me pity your soul. ( See: 😀 –> 🙂 –> 😐 –> 🙁 –> :[ –> x[ ) Your argument is that people in the school system are doing only what they think is best for the kids, and while many in the system have good intentions this is not the case on a general basis or we wouldn't see things like the lunches showcased here. They already committed a "moral wrong" by systematically removing free-time…why should they reverse their decisions? Nothing's changed since they decided to get rid of recess and I doubt any of them will have an epiphany (think Dr. House not Jesus) any time soon. You may be right, but I find it more realistic to assume that most of you ("You" as in humanity, not singling anybody out) are up to no good.

  4. smalltownmom June 21, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    #4 at the top isn't true for every school, because at our school the students have time to both eat and play at lunch, plus a 20 minute mid-morning recess. Students can eat a good lunch in 20 minutes or less.

    I had a much longer comment but maybe I will e-mail it.

  5. Mrs. Q June 21, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    @Stepshep — At the very least a longer lunch period and recess is what other schools are doing because it is the right thing to do for kids. I'm just hoping my school "catches up." Maybe saying "morally right" isn't the right phrase because it sounds preachy (I think I'll revise that). I like to think that when people make a bad decision (removing recess, shortening lunch time) they will eventually change it when they realize it's not working.

  6. Anonymous June 21, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Are there any studies that show a connection between healthy lunches and/or recess and standardized test scores? I think that would carry a lot of weight for negotiation. It seems that is the focus of so many school boards these days.

    One of the problems with extending the school day to provide more recess and lunch time, is that most districts want to extend the school day, but not increase pay for teachers. Most teachers (and especially unions) don't want to work an extra hour each day for free.

  7. Mrs. Q June 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    @Anonymous — there are studies that show that healthy lunches boost achievement. Actually you only have to go as far as what Jamie Oliver did in England more than 5 years ago. They found that some test scores went up (like science if I remember correctly) and attendance improved.

  8. bluets June 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Why is it that (some) parents seem to think that it is fine to spend lots of cash on college when the REAL learning happens when kids are so much younger? Why do we (here in the US) have such a resentment to paying for Early Childhood programs and K-12 education with our tax dollars?

  9. Angry Beaver June 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    I think many people believe that schools are wasteful with tax dollars and therefore do not need additional funding.

  10. Maggie June 22, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    I don't think that 20 minutes for a meal would be too bad, if the students had 20 minutes to eat.

    In the school I work at, that 15 to 20 minute time frame starts ticking when the teachers drop the students at the door. 20 minutes spent actually eating probably wouldn't be too bad. I know it's a dream, but an adult supervisor/mentor for each table of 15 kids would be great, wouldn't it?

    I have(sad)visions of the fantastic meals that could be prepared if all the dreams proposed here come to pass ending up uneaten and untasted because of lack time and lack of understanding by the students.

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