Twisting, Leaning and Rocking to Learn

I am a big believer in needing to move to concentrate (referred to previously here). I am a doodler, I listen best while doodling. Some students in my classes need to rock and swivel or create some kind of rhythmic movement to concentrate. Here is what I have been learning about the need to move to concentrate.

The Hypothesis

Students will have an increased concentration and greater learning effect if allowed to twist, roll, and rock while seated.

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The Science

Activating neurotrophin hormones:

“If someone is getting bored and you ask him to stand up and do an exercise where his vestibular system, the balance system, is challenged – for example, standing on one foot – after 5-10 seconds he will be able to concentrate afterward. When you relate this to a child who starts to rock on a chair, that rocking stimulates the vestibular system too. We have found that stimulating the balance system activates special hormones, such as neurotrophin, that have a tremendous effect on brain activity.”

-Dr. Dieter Breithecker, expert on the relationship between ergonomic design in school furniture and the physical development of school children

Oxygen to the brain:

Dynamic seating (furniture that lets students twist, lean and rock) allows for more movement which creates greater blood circulation. This means more oxygen is arriving at the brain, making concentration easier.

Gymnastic balls

A Case Study (Dordel/Breithecker 2003)

Three groups of classes were equipped in the following way:

  1. non-adjustable, non-dynamic furniture
  2. non-adjustable chair-desk combinations, free swinging chairs, non-inclinable desk tops
  3. height-adjustable chair-desk combinations, inclinable tabletops, rolling/swivel chairs with rocking mechanisms

The Results

The third group (the rocking, swiveling and rolling group) triggered far-above average levels of concentration. Concentration actually increased as the day progressed. While in the first group concentration decreased.

Click on the Figure below to see the full study

Concentration-performance value

The Final Word from Maria Montessori:

“The task of an educator lies in seeing that the child does not confound good with immobility and evil with activity.”