Please Share My Passion For Education!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Global School Play Day: Why I think it is one of the most important days of the year.

I believe that I love education and helping students as much as anyone in the world.  It is for this reason that I believe we are in a major crisis right now:

In my opinion
- Students are becoming increasingly disengaged at school.
- Rather than inspiring students, we are deterring them from becoming lifelong learners.
- We have become so obsessed with "rigor", that we have abandoned relevance.
- School has become irrelevant. It does not prepare students for the real world.
- We have become obsessed with college & career ready and have forgotten about life.
- School has become so stressful that the psychological damage outweighs the gains.


In my research

According to the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, 95% of college counseling center directors surveyed said that the number of students with significant psychological problems is a growing concern at their center/campus.

A study done by the American Psychological Association, yielded some disturbing results.

  • Teens, on average, rate their stress levels at much higher than they believe is healthy.  The average stress level is a 5.8 out of 10, while they report that they feel 3.9 out of 10 is the threshold for being healthy.
  • 27% of teens report stress at levels of 8,9, or 10  on a scale with a high of 10.
  • 33% of teens report they experience headaches a result of stress.
  • 26% report changes in their sleep patterns due to stress.
  • 36% feel tired as a result of ongoing stress.
  • 33% report that stress makes them feel as though they could cry
  • Only 16% of teens say their stress has declined in the past year.
TEENS ARE STRESSED at unprecedented levels.  However,
  • Nearly 50% of teens report that they DO NOT know how to cope with stress.
  • 54% believe that stress has only a slight or no impact on physical or mental health.
  • 26% report that they have snapped or were short with classmates due to stress.
    • 46% report playing video games as a way to cope with stress.
    • 43% report going on the internet as a way to cope with stress.
    • 37% report exercising as a way to cope with stress.
    • 36% report watching television  as a way to cope with stress.
      The # exceeds 100%, because many reported multiple coping methods.

How would they know?  At what point do these issues become more important than teaching kids the steps of the Kreb's Cycle, reading Grapes of Wrath, learning about the War of 1812, or memorizing the Pythagorean Theorem?

83% of teens report that school is causing them significant stress.

Not only are the schools failing to adequately address the issues, they are one of the biggest causes of stress.  I believe that learning how to deal with stress is a very important part of life, and that it is good to experience some level of stress, but this is getting ridiculous.  When the stress is caused by insane amount of homework, growing pressure and expectations to attend and complete college, the constant comparing of students' abilities through grades, the high stakes test, and the lack of relevance to the students' lives, something is wrong.  


TEEN SUICIDE IS THE THIRD LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR YOUNG PEOPLE 15-24, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control Prevention.


Please read that last sentence again.
Please tell three others about that statistic.


Please read that last sentence again.
Please tell three others about that statistic.

I taught at a school which was impacted by several suicides.  I know that many of you have been at a school impacted by a suicide.  If no, this is something that I hope you never have to experience.  The statistics, however, illustrate that you will likely have this impact you at some point.

When this happens, there is nobody walking around talking about college & career ready, standardized tests, homework, or grade point averages.  All of that becomes irrelevant when we are reminded that our students are PEOPLE and not GRADES.  Why do we have to wait until these extreme circumstances until this reality hits us.  And, why does this feeling of concern seem to disappear as we fall back into the illusion of college and career ready and grades.


In one of the best TED Talks I have seen, 13-year old Logan LaPlante discusses his answer to the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  His answer:  HAPPY!

Maybe we should take Logan LaPlante's advice and focus more on our students as human beings who desperately need to learn how to communicate, collaborate, think critically and creatively, problem solve, ask questions, know how to deal with stress and who to go to for help and understand how to learn.  We need to motivate them to become passionate about life and then REMOVE OBSTACLES FROM THEIR PATH (rather than create obstacles) and help them be successful.  Instead, we are more concerned with content standards and standardized tests.  This is unacceptable.

Maybe instead of COLLEGE AND CAREER READY, we should focus more on 


I am not sure when it was decided that school would become a minor league system for COLLEGES & CAREERS, but it is taking a severe toll on our children.  There are red flags everywhere telling us that we are failing at this game.
  • Almost 50% of students who begin college do not finish, yet leave with major debt.
  • The cost of college is causing an increasing number of graduates to be in severe debt.
  • Almost 50% of marriages are ending in divorce (and this number is increasing).
    This should be a sign that we may need to focus more on communication and
    collaboration, rather than isolate students in rows of desks and telling them to keep
    their eyes on their own paper.
...... and on, and on, and on.  One could go on forever with alarming statistics.

A breath of fresh air.  


I recently spoke with Tim Bedley and Scott Bedley who shared their brilliant idea to raise awareness on the importance of play and how badly our students need this.  In the following days a group of educators have joined together to help organize and promote one of the most important days of the year.
Global School Play Day.
February 4th at schools around the world.
Over 35,000+ students are participating already.
I highly recommend watching the TED TALK by Peter Gray on the importance of PLAY.  It discusses the many benefits of allowing students to have unstructured, self-directed time to play.  An opportunity to allow students to be kids.  An opportunity for students to experience social interaction, communication, and collaboration.  An opportunity to be free, forget about stress, have fun, and engage.  Do not underestimate the amount of learning that takes place when students play.  It is powerful.  It is amazing. 

A quick search for the benefits of play will yield a plethora of good reading!

Do not misinterpret Global School Play Day.  It is not a "reward" for students because they have tried hard or have behaved.  It is a part of development.  It is pedagogy.  It is an important element of life.  ONE DAY is NOT suffice to illustrate the importance of play, but it is a start.  Sit back and watch the students during this day and I am confident you will learn more about them than you ever have on a regular day of class.

Play is not a reward.  It is a developmental basic human need and it should be mandatory in schools.  The amount of time our children spend playing has been decreasing dramatically over the past decades.  I really hope that Global School Play Day will be another spark in the movement to revolutionize education and restructure our priorities.  Students deserve it.  Our society needs it.

If you read this before February 4th, 2015, please register your class!  If you cannot afford to give up a whole day, devote part of the day to it.  Explain to students why you are doing it and help raise awareness on the importance of play.  All the resources, explanations, and forms are available for you on the website, if needed.

If you are reading this after February 4th, 2015, please check out the website, look at the resources, the videos, the stories that educators tell.  You can still join the movement and be ready to participate next year.  

GLOBAL SCHOOL PLAY DAY will take place on the first Wednesday in February each year.

It is time to rescue our children, by rescuing our education system.  Global School Play Day is one giant step in the journey to transforming education.

Let me know if I can help you transform education, as it has become a moral imperative for me to do so.  I want to help.

Oliver Schinkten:
Advocate for students
Hater of the status quo
Fighting for the Education Revolution

Founder of:  AssistEd Shift



  1. Awesome! Well said! I couldn't agree more!

  2. Oliver, you are spot on, I fully agree with the challenges and changes required in education. Students see no value in what they are learning and this is causing a high level of dis-engagement. Add to this the amount of student debt young grads are carrying, coupled with the very high underemployment they are experiencing, and it is magnifying the stress you referred to. We do not need to wait for government or education to "fix" this. As parents and leaders we must take a stand to provide what is needed for the success of 21st century students.

    1. Thank you for the reply, Debbie! I agree that student debt is another growing problem. This is especially concerning when the college dropout rate is so high. I always wonder whose fault this is. Are we convincing too many students to attend college? Are we not preparing students well enough to be successful at college? I believe these, and other factors all contribute to the problem! What are your thoughts?

      I also agree that we cannot wait for government or the education system to fix this. We have clearly seen (over the past 100 years) that they don't fix this issue. They are more concerned about testing data to help with political campaigns and funding. I think it is time for the "Learning Revolution", which is going to have to be done by parents, teachers, and students. It has never been easier to connect and share stories, feedback, and ideas via sources like blogging, social media, etc... It is time for a meme to develop and for everyone concerned about education to unite and speak up!

      Thank you for your reply! You bring up some great points!

  3. I am a teacher that has recently added Genius Hour to my schedule. I came across your blog through a class I'm taking and happened on this post about Global School Play Day. I am intrigued. I have always felt giving kids the freedom to be a kid without the restraints of our sometimes over-scheduled and over-tested society would be a positive step in the right direction. I applaud your efforts.

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