In The News: How the US lets hot school days sabotage learning
You’ve heard of the digital divide during the pandemic. Now that schools are finally reopening for Summer school programs, there’s another problem plaguing the millions of students trying to learn – the heat. Read on for more.
Human bodies react swiftly when they overheat. Blood rushes to the skin, trying to find cool air. Sweat seeps out of the skin and evaporates, dissipating body heat. But these processes have a cost: they reduce blood circulation, which means our most important organ, the brain, gets less blood.
“And with reduced brain blood flow, we have reduced brain function,” said Tony Wolf, a researcher at Penn State University who studies how the body reacts to heat.In short, heat can lower our cognition. But it doesn’t take a PhD to know this. Just ask middle school students.
Researchers have long known about heat’s profound impact on the human body – and found a pretty effective way to combat it: air conditioning. But nearly a century later a huge portion of American classrooms are still sweltering hot and don’t have air conditioning. And new research is showing that the ramifications are devastating: the more hot school days there are, the less students learn – and the effect is noticeably worse for students of color.