As in: “Which HSFs do kids study in 5th grade?”
We hope that question and others like it find their way into faculty lounge and curriculum conversations in the future: it will mean that principals, classroom teachers and administrators have begun educating kids to a competency in the many health-related factors of life they will face after secondary school.
But really: HSFs? Do we really need another acronym to drop into the education system?
I don’t see any alternative. This one (and probably a few more) reflect the emergence of learning activities that have never had a sustainable place in schools, but are now settling in all over the country: raised garden beds and tool sheds, classroom corners designated for mindful resting, kid-sized food-prep tables, a nearby creek with kindergarteners splashing through it much of the day.
They will also reflect an educational goal that has yet to be defined or accepted in our efforts to fully prepare the younger generations for lives as productive, compassionate, healthy citizens: that health-centered competency. It feels like we need a new lingo for that.
The term “health” itself as the subject of the learning is limited as it carries the entrenched perceptions, images, feelings and assumptions that come from healthcare itself; from the hospital; or the doctor’s office. School-based health today most often describes healthcare interventions: from neosporin and a band aid at the nurse’s office too far more serious conditions and challenges that often require long-term collaborations from multiple community medical and social service organizations.
WholeHealthED is surely about health, but it is more precisely about imparting to students an understanding of life experiences and conditions – those HSFs — that can strengthen their health and wellbeing. Does garden education strengthen health? Mindfulness? PE that supports cognition? Outdoor ed? A teaching kitchen? The experiences from the current generation of such programs are compelling in this regard, and they point to what may be possible when they are organized together in coherent fashion and made part of a school’s or district’s core K-12 curriculum.
So we submit for your consideration, Acronym #1: HSF — Health Strengthening Factors.
And in any case, the cumbersome phrase Health Strengthening Factors will no doubt fall to good old American lingo development and become just “the factors.” T-shirts available soon.