Sometimes a Body Needs Silence

It was enough just to sit there without words. —Louise Erdrich

Today promises to be chock full of goodness, like that candy bar that’s chock-full-o-nuts, whatever candy bar that is. I am again at Starbucks, but today I am working on my fat studies presentation. In an attempt to get this finished before I leave for the conference, I have set aside today to work. I should be grading my students’ essays, planning for next week, and commenting on the many rough drafts that are in my bag. Instead, I am setting all of that aside in order to work on this paper. I am writing about the way middle school and high school students perceive their fat teachers and peers.Unfortunately, none of the research I have done really has anything to do with what I want to write about. Most research I am learning pretends that people don’t exist until they reach college. Middle schoolers and high schoolers and their teacher (by default I suppose) are non-entities. We simply don’t exist on the academic radar.

Even the data base known as ERIC contains no articles that I can find about the status of fat kids, their teachers, or their school environment. However, in my search I found countless articles about how schools are trying to contain the obesity epidemic. I have a few thoughts about that: (1) Stop making PE one of the first classes we cut. Just because of the nature of the subject, PE gives students time to exercise and unwind from the pressures of school. Statistics show that people eat more when they are stressed. (2) Make all students have PE everyday. Most schools only provide PE once a week. For example, the school my mom teaches at gives their students 20 minutes of PE once a week. (3) Stop cutting recess in order to provide more instructional time. We learn how to be people at recess. When we cut recess, we not only cut exercise time, we also cut the time in which children learn self-governance, discover problem solving, and figure out how to interact with their peers in a non-contrived environment. (4) Feed students healthy food. Vegetables are as inexpensive as meat. Beans and rice are less expensive than any other foodstuffs. If each student got some beans and rice, a green vegetable, and a pint of milk, they’d have a pretty decent meal. And it wouldn’t be “fat topped with cheese floating in grease,” as Bec’s kids used to describe school lunch. (5) Allow children to walk to school and to play outside, and give parents the training they need to provide excellent snacks and meals at home. Sometimes the very things we fight against come from ignorance, lack of time, and a weak support system. So, I suppose instead of penalizing people for things beyond their control, we should help them avoid those things.

I came here craving silence and found myself having a conversation with someone I generally can’t stand. This conversation, however, was pleasant and fulfilling. I still crave the silence of reading and writing, but I am glad I didn’t pass up this opportunity. This ends up being on of my biggest problems: I’d much rather have good, enriching conversation than do anything else. It’s probably something I should work on. Or I should have found an occupation where that is an admirable quality instead of a deterrent to success.

The outlook for silence looks bleak. Next weekend (October 1-3) I will be in MN with two of my closest friends. The next weekend (October 8-10) holds my father’s and Bec’s birthday celebrations, and a friend is coming in from Kentucky. October 15-17 is a potential silent retreat, but the next weekend is filled-up with fall break, a ghost tour, and a Halloween party, all of which I am super excited about. I am going to spend the day with my mom in her classroom on that Friday. The next weekend is empty for now, but November 6 (when I was supposed to run my marathon) is Amy’s big birthday bash. The weekend after that, November 12-16, means that Bec and I are going to MN to see the boys. I need about 75 fewer things to do. 🙂

As busy as I have been, I have still find to contemplate spirituality. I always find time for that. What I am finding is that I need to listen more (hence the need for silence) and talk or comment less (hence the need for silence).

2 responses to “Sometimes a Body Needs Silence

  1. unfinishedportraitofsam

    it is SO, so nice to read you again. and thanks, to0, for your participation on my blog ; your insight and comments always make my heart happy. 🙂

    but are you not running the marathon in November? what happened to your ankle–stress fracture?? 😦 ugh.

    i’ll be interested in hearing how the fat studies presentation goes. i know you said “foolishly applied to,” but i love that you work in that arena. and it’s nice to hear the commonsense of your “tips” for corralling the obesity epidemic. who ever knew we’d have to argue so hard for play?

  2. I’m not surprised you haven’t found any research on middle / high school. I’m happy you area leading the way in this area. I’m sure that college folks would tell you that you are wrong and that middle / high school aren’t second class citizens. They deny it; that’s part of the problem.

    I love you and will miss you while you’re gone. Good luck.

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