Table of Contents

    Issue Theme
  • Free The Big One

    Teaching about climate change

    By Bill Bigelow

    The environmental crisis requires a profound social and curricular rethinking.

  • Cover Story
  • Free A Pedagogy for Ecology

    By Ann Pelo

    Helping students build an ecological identity and a conscious connection to place opens them to a broader bond with the earth.

  • The Wonder of Nature

    By Bob Peterson

    A review of The Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, The Sense of Wonder, and A Sand County Almanac.

  • Rethinking Lunchtime

    Making lunch an integral part of education

    By Michael Stone

    Lunch is too important to be thought of as the ritual pit stop between classroom and playground.

  • Educating Heather

    First-person narratives bring climate change closer to home

    By Lauren G. McClanahan

    First-person narratives about climate change bridge the gap for students between theory and reality.

  • Teachable Moments Not Just for Kids

    By Susan Naimark

    When parents avoid connecting, they model for children how not to talk about race and racism.

  • Beat It! Defeat It! Racist Cookies

    Promoting activism in teacher education

    By Bree Picower

    How racist cookies spurred a teacher and her education students to take action.

  • "Bait and Switch"

    New report pushes voucher fans to fast-talk around problems

    By Barbara Miner

    Voucher advocates are fast-talking their way around a new report that cast doubts on the value of the program.

  • America's Army Invades Our Classrooms

    The military’s stealth recruitment of children

    The Army's new high-tech strategy for winning recruits.

  • Teaching for Joy and Justice

    By Linda Christensen

    An excerpt from Christensen's new book, Teaching for Joy and Justice: Re-imagining the Language Arts Classroom.

  • Boycott!

    Los Angeles Teachers Say NO to More Testing

    By Sarah Knopp

    Los Angeles teachers take on LAUSD's mandated tests.

  • Free Connected to the Community

    An effective model for preparing and retaining teachers

    By Marianne Smith, Jan Osborn

    A look inside I-Teach, an effective model for preparing and retaining teachers.

  • Izzit Capitalist Propaganda?

    By Julie Knutson

    DVDs from follow a familiar free-market script.

  • "It Was So Much Fun! I Died of Massive Blood Loss!"

    The problem with Civil War reenactments for children

    By Karen Park Koenig

    A mock battle highlights the line between role-playing and re-enactment.

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Rethinking Lunchtime

Making lunch an integral part of education
Rethinking Lunchtime

Today, the situation has changed dramatically as a result of actions taken while Muir served as a pilot school within the Berkeley School Lunch Initiative (SLI). A joint effort to design and implement curriculum and food service innovations in Berkeley public schools, the Berkeley SLI was launched in 2004 by the Berkeley Unified School District, the Chez Panisse Foundation, and the Center for Ecoliteracy. The Muir community had generated various ideas for innovations, but many of them, such as radically redesigning the lunchroom or revamping the district food service, were determined to be too expensive or out of their control. They needed a starting place, something they could do that didn't require extra money but had high visibility and good prospects for early success.

During the 2004?05 school year, the Center for Ecoliteracy offered a series of School Lunch Initiative workshops for Berkeley school administrators, faculty, and staff. At one of the workshops, participants learned of research showing that students who eat lunch after recess behave better in the lunchroom, eat more, and waste less than those who eat before recess. Muir teachers and administrators decided to reverse the order of lunch and recess, adding 10 minutes to the lunch period so that students would have 25 minutes of playground time followed by 20 minutes for lunch. "We acknowledged," one teacher observed, "that time to run around and interact and be physical is as crucial to the day as reading time." After exercising, and without the incentive to rush through their meals, children began to eat more and to throw away less.

Building on this structural change, the Muir staff went further to make the lunch period a teaching opportunity, thereby helping students see lunch as an educational part of their day. Muir teachers, who once shunned the dining hall, now eat there more often, and every teacher joins his or her class for the last 10 minutes of lunch and supervises cleanup. The 10-minute period that teachers spend in the lunchroom is designated as instructional time, a precious commodity given pressures to devote increasingly more minutes to subjects covered in standardized tests.

The new schedule also initiated a series of less expected changes. Faced with the push to meet testing mandates, many schools are reducing time for physical education and meals in spite of evidence that children who exercise and eat well are better prepared for learning. Now children at Muir spend both more time playing and more time eating than they did before. On the playground, supervisors report less fighting. Students return to class more ready to learn.

Simply giving children more time to eat and converse over food is itself a way to cultivate habits and attitudes different from those engendered by a culture awash in fast food. "We need to give our children enough time to eat, sit, enjoy, and socialize," says Ann Cooper, Berkeley's director of Nutrition Services. Under her leadership, the district food service has made decided improvements in the food served at Berkeley Unified School District schools: salad bars are now offered in every school, fresh fruits and vegetables are served daily, 95 percent of the processed foods are gone, most meals are made from scratch, and most of the ingredients are purchased locally.

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