education… no desk required

wiseburn crossfit*This is a picture from my trip down to LA today to visit Dana Middle School and the amazing CrossFit PE class of Kevin Corrinet and his non-profit affiliate Wiseburn CrossFit.

I’m not sure if many of you know this, but I was formerly a high school English Literature teacher, and I LOVED my job, and I loved the kids I taught even more. I’m lucky that even with a career change, my world is still education, only the subject matter has changed. I miss the unique kids every day, but I have never been happier.

Though I am no longer in the “classroom” in the common sense of the word, I am still very actively involved in education. My primary roll with CrossFit HQ is to help to bridge the gap between CrossFit and education throughout the world, and since starting this job in spring of 2012, I have come into contact with some of the most amazing educators imaginable, from all different disciplines, backgrounds, and demographics. All of them, though, have shared a passion for two things – education (and I mean true education here, not the act of standing in front of a classroom, but the student learning that comes from it) and CrossFit.

In my quest to work with teachers to improve the education system one student, classroom, school, or district at a time, I know that I have to stay up-to-date on the current state of education in our country and the world. The only thing I love more than teaching is learning, and I have made it a goal of 2014 to self-educate as often as possible. TED talks have become a wonderful resource for this, and I am particularly fond of Sir Ken Robinson’s talks on education and the unbelievably underestimated importance of creativity… now bear with me here; I swear this loops back to CrossFit and will all make sense.


I drive over Highway 17 at least once a week for meetings at CrossFit HQ in Scotts Valley, and this is my dedicated self-education time, where I listen to TED talks and find myself talking back to my dashboard and laughing out loud with the voices coming from my car stereo. I love this time.

Just yesterday I listened to a talk by Sir Ken (I actually listened to it again on the way home because it was that good). There were three different points that really stuck out to me, and I hope I can eloquently explain why and how this connects to CrossFit and my job. Here they are:


In parts of this country the high school drop-out rate is 60-80%

The significance for this one is blatantly obvious; it is gut retching to think that in some parts of our country there is an 80% dropout rate. That is absurd, and clearly we have a problem that cannot be ignored. Kids are simply unengaged, unprepared, and unexcited about learning.

Now for the how this connects… I can confidently say that I  have seen CrossFit making a difference in keeping kids in school. Drop out rates are decreasing; CrossFit makes these students want to be at school, and in being there alone, learning is happening, even if it’s not the kind of learning those damn standardized tests focus on (which if you can’t tell, I think are entirely unjustified and limiting).

I’ll keep this short and give you just a snippet of what’s to come. The Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago, educating underserved students in one of the roughest areas of Illinois, has implemented CrossFit, and graduation rates are rising at unbelievable rates, with 90% of these students going to 4-year colleges in 2013.

This is just one of so many examples of a similar amazing story.

CrossFit has changed these kids’ lives. They are excited to come to school, they are learning discipline, empowerment, and teamwork – all important qualities to instill at such a developmental time in a young person’s life. Their brains are firing in ways they never have before, as cognitive function improves with physical activity. And this is just the beginning.


In our country, education is based on, not diversity, but conformity. Teachers are encouraged to find out what kids can do only in a very narrow spectrum. These standards of learning, science and math, are essential, but not SUFFICIENT.  A real education needs to give equal weight to the arts, humanities, and physical education.

Sir Ken’s point is pretty clear here. Sure math and science are important for our students to understand, but these subjects aren’t enough on their own, and they surely don’t need to be emphasized more than the other disciplines that are being cut left and right (seeing a correlation yet for why the dropout rates are on a steady rise?).

The arts, humanities, and PHYSICAL EDUCATION, disciplines that, more than any other (in my opinion), allow for creativity, self-awareness, and the natural progression of relationships and the mind to flourish, are being cut; something has to be done about this.

Those schools implementing CrossFit have seen unbelievable changes occur in their students. Imagine taking time away from science to ensure students do CrossFit for at least 45 minutes a day… this time away from science actually makes those science grades go up. Now that is cool.



It seems today that kids are suffering from all these “psychological conditions,” but in reality, what they’re actually suffering from is childhood. Children prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents because this speaks to parts of children’s being that are otherwise untouched, the parts of their being that might just be most important.

So this is one of the parts of the talk that I found myself agreeing to out loud to my dashboard, wishing I had at least had my dogs in the car to talk to. Elementary, junior high, and high school students are at a time in their lives where there is still a chance for their creativity to be saved; by the time we hit adulthood, so many of us lose that creativity. Creativity is a product of empowerment because a student has to believe in himself in order to explore and trust in his creativity and to know it is worth exploring. If we stifle this creativity by keeping kids in desks, making them fidgety, and telling them there is only one right answer to every problem, we are killing that innate gift…. one medication, poor grade, or scolding at a time.

CrossFit fosters creativity for these kids by empowering them to think highly of themselves, think outside the box to problem-solve, and think as a team, building community all the while. Creative concept huh?

Now you don’t need to be a teacher, student, or even a parent to care about all of this stuff. My guess is that you know at least one kid. That kid is going to grow up to be a future citizen of this world, and with the way education is going, that future could be a scary place. Something has to be done to make a change and to create future kick-ass citizens of this planet. I think CrossFit might be the start to a solution… that and the amazing teachers I have me (and have still to meet) who are working their tails off for change.

And now, on to my promised nutrition tidbit for today…

coco java

I came across these little packets of goodness a couple of weeks ago thanks to working for NorCal and the mass amounts of emails we get about products. Often times those emails get archived, but this one stood out… I mean it’s coconut butter, cashew butter, and coffee! That is an amazing combination if I have ever seen one. So I responded, and the owner, Logan (a really awesome guy, who I so happened to have weird connections to thanks to the wonderful giant, yet intimately close, CrossFit community) from Original Nutritionals, happily sent me a few to try.

My instincts were right on this one. The stuff is seriously amazing, and it’s the perfect pick-me-up midday when you need something to eat and a little energy boost, but don’t have time to cook or don’t want a full cup of coffee (or maybe you do, but like in my case, prefer this stuff).

Because it is a fat, it’s hormonally balanced, so it’s a great snack that won’t spike your insulin too much and it helps your body learn to use fat as fuel.

Try it out and see for yourself!

Happy Wednesday! And as always… comments welcome. What would you like to read about??

Oh and… here’s a hint at tomorrow’s post…. It started with “O” and end with “pen”

By | 2015-03-31T13:43:00-08:00 February 27th, 2014|Health|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Brandon Roberson March 2, 2014 at 2:25 am - Reply

    Hello Laura,

    This is an amazing post. It was also a pleasure to meet you this week and learn about the work you are doing to connect CrossFit to schools and the community. I look forward to working with you more in the future.


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