What Are We Doing To Our Kids?

In an interview with Robert Rickover (son of the founder of the nuclear navy), author Richard Brennan says: “I heard this radio program. A headmaster says that when our kids come into school at the age of five, they have lovely posture, they are bright-eyed, they are eager to learn and eager to please but when they leave school at 16 or 17, their posture is atrocious, they have no life in them at all, and they don’t want to learn and they don’t want to please. What are we doing to our children?”

“What they are doing in schools is that they are putting all children at the age of five in school chairs that slope backwards so they can be stacked easily. People don’t realize that children are sitting on two rounded bones, the sit bones, that are part of the pelvis. When you put a rounded bone on a chair that slopes backwards, the whole pelvis and hip joint become out of commission. The children have no chance except to bend their backs as they work at their desks. The first thing a child does is to tip the chair on to the front two legs. The second thing they try is to put a foot underneath. That helps their posture. But both of these habits, they get told off for them. So they bend every bone in their spine and we wonder why they come out bent.”

Robert: “Here it is a chair-desk combination. You can’t do any of that tipping. You take kids who are used to running around a lot and telling them to sit still for many hours a day in an environment that makes it difficult not to mess up your posture.”

“Often kids in first or second grade will carry backpacks weighing 20 pounds or more.”

Richard: “It sets up kids to have spinal scoliosis.”

Robert: “We have strict rules about the workplace but the kind of furniture children are forced to put up with would not be allowed in a workplace. The company could be sued for poor ergonomics yet we think that children are resilient.”

Richard: “When my son was five, I came in to his school and said to the headmaster, do you mind if I put a wedge-shaped cushion on Kieran’s chair? I explained to him. They had a meeting and they decided to buy a cushion for every child in the school. Two years later, he came up to me and said there is a noticeable change in the children’s posture. This is without any Alexander lessons.”

“I went in to my daughter’s school and found that out of a class of 24, eight of the pupils at the age of eight were wearing orthotics because of posture problems. I asked the children how many of them were getting headaches and neck aches at the end of the day and half of them put their hands up. Just introducing the cushion and putting it on the chair, which levels the chair out, most children change their posture immediately.”

“I sell chairs and cushions on my web site because it is the only thing outside of Alexander lessons that will help someone improve their posture.”

“If I don’t introduce the wedge-shaped cushion, people keep coming back for lessons because all the good work I do in Alexander lessons gets undone because they sit on these terrible chairs. It’s easier to get lasting improvement if they don’t go back to the very thing that caused the tension in the first place.”

Robert: “Another inexpensive addition is to make stools of various heights available to kids. There is an advantage to sitting with your knees lower than your hips.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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