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Food Revolution

Jamie Oliver with school children in
Huntington, West Virginia
Jamie Oliver is a British native who is kicking ass and taking names in his Food Revolution.  America's schools are drowning in a sea of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fat, pink slime, and plastic packaging.  Discipline problems plague our inner-cities.  I have personal experience teaching in two different inner-city districts in Massachusetts.  I saw how my students ate.  Students who ate poorer quality foods tended to cause the most discipline problems.  YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!

These clips are about FLAVORED MILK ONLY.  For the first episode of this season of The Revolution, see the bottom of this post.


Snack time in a Montessori classroom.  Note the place mats,
use of dishes instead of Styrofoam, lack of children screaming,
relaxed body language of teachers, and fresh food.  When I
worked in Maine the food quality was outstanding.  If a poor,
rural state like Maine can have excellent food, why not a wealthy
state with cities and industry like Massachusetts, New York,
California, or Texas?
The Montessori school has been a very welcome change nutritionally.  Students eat a wide variety of fresh, well-prepared and balanced foods.  They are required to eat them in a peaceful and respectful manner.  I don't believe that this is because of socio-economic status or the fact that they are in a private school.  Children are children.  They match their behavior to expectations, not stereotypes.  If they are expected to drink unflavored milk and water, they do just that.  Fast food is an occasional treat for the students at my school.  As a result, they have the lowest obesity rate that I have ever seen in my 10+ years of teaching!

How does this effect the music classroom?

  • no students avoid chasing, running, skipping, dancing, or creative movement activities and games
  • violence against teachers is unheard of in the school
  • children are less aggressive
  • children sleep better and are more alert at all points during the school day
  • children can control their bodies better and avoid accidents
  • children see food as a social event and means of nourishment instead of a recreational drug, this makes them look at other activities like music as more than entertainment
  • songs and games about fruits (Apple tree, Old Roger), vegetables (Oats Peas Beans, Ol' Mister Rabbit, etc.) are about things that the children actually know
It is common for public school students to get calls home before the annual MCAS exams are administered.  The gist of these calls is as follows.
  1. Your child is taking a test tomorrow
  2. Make sure they get enough sleep
  3. Make sure they have a hearty breakfast
  4. Make sure they are on time to school
Are you kidding me?!!!!!  
Parents have to be told this?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A family eating good food together in peace.  Wouldn't
such a family also be expected to sing, dance, and play
together in peace?
Food, clothing, and shelter for children are the responsibility of families.  As we have stuffed our faces with cheap, calorie-rich foods, we've forgotten to be adults.  One of the reasons I do not want to teach in my home district is because I intend to be active in making those schools healthier places to be.  I can't do that and maintain employment in the same district.  

I'm absolutely behind Jamie Oliver's initiative.  It's one that I am taking on personally in my battle of the bulge.  My little daughter does not have a weight problem and I'm going to do everything in my power to help her to never develop one.  The first step, get myself in shape and eating healthy food.  Next step, working in my community to improve food in the schools.  Are you on board too?

Comments

Dave Owen said…
If diet and exercise truly affect your ability as a performer, don't you feel some sense of obligation to teach students general healthy principles that will maximize their abilities? Maybe this takes it a little too far, but it's no fun playing poorly because you have no lung power or can't maintain decent posture.
Suzanne G. said…
David,
Absolutely! Music is part of a complete education. Healthy students do better in all subjects and can concentrate more intensely for longer periods of time.

We have no hope of improving intellectual development without improving health. In the US, poorer students are many times more likely to be obese. They are fed poorer quality food, have physical education cut or eliminated from curriculum, have little or no access to playgrounds, and have sedentary families.

We are developing a physical caste system!

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