Do you learn better without shoes?

This morning I discovered this article in The Telegraph via a tweet by Carl Hendrick:

There is research mentioned in the article and a professor, so while I couldn’t find any of the research on scholar by the man, I could easily find the professor on twitter so I asked for the actual research and I received an answer:

The first link I found myself but doesn’t mentioned any link to actual research, the second is an interesting study in it’s own right that I already saw being mentioned by Daniel Willingham earlier on, but which still didn’t make it to this blog, well because I’m not sure what to make of it in translating the research to daily practice. This is the abstract:

The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of barefoot versus shod running on working memory. I recruited exercise science students from the University of North Florida who exercised recreationally. Participants ran both barefoot and shod while hitting targets (poker chips) on a running track and without targets. I measured working memory using backward digit recall and also recorded participants’ heart rate, speed, and target accuracy. The main finding from this study was that working memory performance increased in the barefoot condition when participants hit targets (poker chips). This result supports the idea that additional attention is needed when running barefoot to avoid stepping on objects that could potentially cause harm to the foot. Significant increases in participant’s heart rate were also found in the barefoot condition but not in the shod condition. No significant differences found in participants’ speed in the barefoot or shod condition, nor were there any in the target or no target condition. Together, these findings suggest that individuals working memory increases after at least sixteen minutes of barefoot running if they have to look at the ground to avoid objects that may cause harm to their feet. Barefoot running may help individuals of all ages; from delaying the onset of cognitive deterioration in the elderly, obesity prevention for individuals of all ages, to providing a boost in cognitive performance for children who are behind their peers in school.

So while this study is interesting, it doesn’t say anything about sitting in school without shoes on to learn. Stephen Heppell also added this link to his research project. But again… no info about the research about shoeless education.

So… do we learn better without shoes? Hard to tell, as I haven’t found any solid evidence yet. As always, I’m open for any evidence!


2 thoughts on “Do you learn better without shoes?

  1. Reblogged this on X, Y of Einstein? and commented:

    Ondertussen staat het bericht in een pak Nederlandstalige kranten en valt het op hoe weinig moeite er gedaan wordt om feiten te checken. Dat deed ik gisteren wel en het verhaal is – vooralsnog – op behoorlijk los zand gebouwd. Heb aan de professor die in de kranten vermeld wordt, gewoon zelf naar de evidentie gevraagd en de oogst was mager, zeer mager…

  2. Als aanvulling op de reactie hieronder: ook in het Jeugdjournaal was dit een item. Het werd als een voldrongen feit gepresenteerd, compleet met een filmpje. Voor veel kinderen is het Jeugdjournaal een belangrijke en gewaardeerde bron.
    (Dat wordt dus vanmiddag een gesprek met mijn 11-jarigen om het sloffen verhaal te ontkrachten).

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