We spend too much time in school learning with just parts of ourselves (mostly our eyes and ears) when it's pretty evident that we were designed to learn with our entire bodies.
I'm not going to pretend that I first conceived of the balloon cage with this in mind, but I'm reminded of full-body learning every time we surround our block area with floor-to-ceiling caution fencing, lay down the gym mats and fill the area with 100 balloons.
I'll never forget watching one of my daughter's kindergarten classmates from the door of the classroom, a boy with a brain designed for math, working on an assignment. Ostensibly, they were "sitting" at their desks, but his body simply couldn't do it, at least not while doing arithmetic.
He was standing, straddling his chair, bent over his work. His feet fidgeted beneath him, constantly, his toes getting tangled between the legs of the chair, eventually knocking it over. Without lifting his eyes from his paper he returned it to an upright position with his free hand, only to once more tip it on its side with his hyperactive feet. He was the first one in the room finished and given his track record I'm sure he'd proven himself proficient. How great it was that no one commanded him to sit, to be still, to "behave."
Maybe I should care about what the kids are learning in the balloon cage, but I don't. I only care how they are learning as they cavort with their friends, often cramming a dozen or more of their constantly moving bodies in there together, joyfully.
All those bright eyes, those sweaty brows, those happy voices, letting me know that every channel is wide open, every faculty tuned into this big, amazing world, taking it in, managing it, managing themselves, one another.
Why can't school always be like this? Why must we sit in our chairs? Why must we turn off all but one or two of our channels?
I suppose much of it has to do with that thing called "classroom management" or the prejudice that a quiet room is where the learning takes place.
Who would take us seriously if we were having this much fun all the time?
What kind of worker bees would we crank out?
How would we ever pass those standardized tests?
If this is how we learn today, won't the rest of our lives just be one big disappointment?
Or will we grow up to demand a world in which we get to work out math problems on our feet and keep right on playing in the balloon cage?