Podcast Episode 158: “Recess is a Right” – Speaking with Medical Ethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan about things that affect our children’s lives

Welcome! To listen to today’s episode, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post and hit the triangular “play” button. Enjoy the show!

Today’s guest, a medical ethicist (in other words, a person who helps determine what is ethical in people’s health), took my breath away with his eloquent words on stuff that impacts young children every day.

Dr. Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics in the Department of Population Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, and I talk about everything from cloning mammoths to stopping malaria and the Zika virus… and also what the average person can do to improve their – our – lives.

Dr. Caplan shares his strong feelings on the academic pressures placed on elementary school age kids today, and what he says sure gives me hope.

I know you’re going to love our conversation! To read the notes, and to grab the key links, visit weturnedoutokay.com/158.


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After helping us understand what a bioethicist, or medical ethicist does, Dr. Caplan digs into a ton of topics, all within his purview: we talk about genetic fixes for cystic fibrosis and other inherited issues, whether it’s a good thing or not to take out the specific kinds of mosquitoes that cause so many problems for humans, who should pay for healthcare for the very poor, for senior citizens, and for some very expensive treatments.

At a certain point in our conversation, I start taking notes – I know you’ll want to have this stuff in writing (for when you meet with your child’s school administration, for example, as you’re working to get your first grader less homework and more recess).

Here are a few of my favorite – and I think most important – statements from medical ethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan:

“Recess is a right. It’s just as important as anything in the curriculum.”

“Kids don’t learn anything from homework in the elementary grades.”

“Denying recess is like saying “you can’t come to reading class.””

In talking of what parents can do: “meet with the school committee… with church groups… get organized… [While you may not have power nationally]… locally, you DO have power.”

In talking with Dr. Caplan, I really started to feel that anything is possible. If we want what’s right for our kids, we need to start having conversations with the right people; we need to engage with people in our communities, in our school administrations, in our neighborhoods.

We do have power – if we reach out and take it. I’m wishing you well as you work towards what’s right for your child!

Key Links:

Dr. Caplan asks, if you want to connect with him, to email him: click here for his faculty page at Langone Medical Center, where you’ll find his email address.

During our conversation, Dr. Caplan mentions a podcast episode he recently recorded for Web M.D.; click here for Web M.D.’s website (where you’ll need to make an account, if you don’t have one; once you do that, search by name – Dr. Arthur Caplan – to hear the doctor’s podcast episodes in there, especially the one entitled “Is Recess a Right or a Privilege?” (I’m off to do this now : )