Over in this thread, various posters, including myself, are describing the horrors they went through in gym class.
I hope things have improved since I was in high school (I graduated from what was then Ontario grade 13 in 1981.) But if they haven’t, it seems clear to me that there are certain improvements we can make for these students. Let’s see…
[ul]No bullying or direspect by the teachers.No bullyng or disrespect from the students.Provide a non-team-oriented fitness program for those who don’t do well in teams. Better yet, make specific sports separate electives apart from the basic fitness program, and offer a choice.If learning to work in teams is part of the goal, provide instruction for everyone concerned on how to be a team.Sort students by ability, and provide instruction as appropriate to each ability.This includes actually instructing people how to play the game.[/ul]I reemmber meeting a womon who had thrived on Phys Ed in high school. She was shocked to really learn how bad it was for some people. I was shocked to learn how good it was for some people.
All of the above. Also, I’d like a pony.
As far as choice goes, the students get none. Zero. Nada. Zip. This isn’t college. This is high school. You take what the district tells you to take. Don’t like it? Move or fail.
As far as alternative activities in PE, I’ve always lobbied for mandatory units on Ballroom Dance. Our school teaches Line Dancing in PE2, but how often does that crop up in general circumstances? But basic Ballroom dancing can be a life-saver. Everybody has to go to weddings and the like. Some instruction and practice in basic steps and styles would come in handy. I also think a semester of Aikido would be useful.
Standards should be set by the personal best system. So long as you improve, it doesn’t matter if you are a superstar or a slowpoke for your age group.
Students with obvious performance issues that they cannot be held completely responsible for (like being very small, terribly obese, extremely tall or underweight for example) should be allowed the opportunity to choose an alternate PE program from a heavily team oriented one. Let them switch back and forth as necessary. Confidence is built slowly, not by throwing a kid who can’t keep up to the wolves. Giving them some choice about what they will do each day will help them to find their preferred method of working out. Feel like baseball on Monday? Great, grab a glove. Not feeling it on Tuesday? then it’s laps and calisthenics for you.
Hell my school threw learning out the window. You show up and wear the appropriate clothing and try, congratulations, have an A. If you want to learn how to play a sport you join that team. (Of course, we were so small that if you wanted to play a sport, congratulations you’re on varsity.) Basically, we had an hourish to play limmo or handball or basketball or floor hockey or whatever. Teams were made by alternating number or whatever so none of that captains picking their friends crap. It worked out pretty well. Except the locker room smelled like moldy ass.
I went to early elementary in the mid-eighties, and I think that the phys ed curriculum then kicked butt. It was before the fitness testing. We danced, we tumbled, we skipped rope and bounced balls. It was non-competitive, non-threatening, and a total blast.
Man, the first day of third grade gym class was a nasty shock. That was when we were supposed to run a mile without stopping. Ugh.
I had one other nice experience in gym class, when we did a three-week weight lifting elective. The teacher had a circuit set up, and every day we’d just work the circuit for the duration of the class. It was awesome and I actually got some visible results in those three weeks. Again, non-competitive and non-threatening. I loved it.
Nowadays it seems that schools have improved their PE offerings. My kids or their friends have had many alternative units: tai chi, yoga, aerobics, weight training, bicycle riding, circus sports (juggling, unicycles, tumbling) obstacle courses, and scootering. High school seems to have more of the sports for less able kids, like the yoga, aerobics and weight training. You don’t have to take team sports if you don’t want to.
The worst was when they were timed on a 3-mile run and given their grade based on their time, regardless of improvement shown or age, sex or size. My kid only got a “B” despite being a superb athlete, because she’s a 5’ muscular sprinter, not a distance runner. She stressed for days over it.
IMNSHO, schools should separate PE into two tracks.
The first track should appeal to kids who are more athletic, or who are motivated to learn team sports, but who choose not to participate in JV/varsity sports. This track would offer the basics of team sports like football, basketball, soccer and so forth. The goal is to learn how to play these sports and develop those skills.
The second track should be about fun, fitness and personal achievement. I’d emphasize individual activities, like aerobics/yoga/martial arts, running/walking, dancing (great idea, silenus!), and other non-sport sports. I would grade based on personal improvement; if a student does more this week than last week, the student gets an A. I would also encourage overweight students to lose weight, but not make it a focus of the class. I would also teach safety and injury prevention, nutrition and healthy lifestyle, and positive self-image. Basically, the goal here is to learn how to be healthy and find something you like to do, rather than a sport you have to do. Finally, I would require adult supervision in the dressing room and in the gym and have a zero-tolerance policy about bullying.
Our school allowed you to choose between two sports for a two-week rotation. Usually one was team-oriented and the other was individual. You were graded on participation and a short quiz on the rules of your chosen sport at the end of the rotation. I still hated it but it could have been much worse. I actually enjoyed the tennis, archery, and badminton weeks, and the short week at the end before vacation was always square dancing, which was a blast.
We still had to do the run a mile thing. I had no cardiovascular endurance back then, so it royally sucked.
Silenus, bravo! I’m one of those gym-skipping slackers who hated the competitive athletic stuff that other kids (i.e. jocks, bullies) seemed to thrive on, and that the entire PE curriculum revolved around. If dance had been an option for me, I would have voluntarily attended gym instead of skipping through the years I spent in public school. I was lucky to have a one semester dance option in boarding school.
Ballroom teaches decorum, manners, respect - all in a kind of old-timey fashion that I guess some kids don’t like at first, but it serves a person well as an adult. The movie “Mad Hot Ballroom” is a good example of the benefits of partner dancing for younger kids, oftentime kids who don’t relate to rough and tumble team sports.
Dance is physically demanding, you can get a kick ass workout without having to worry about some ape smashing you into a pulp on the field or driving the dodgeball into your face at 50mph. The bullying thing kind of goes away too - that kid that gets called a fag on the football field may have an advantage in dance. I thought for years that I wasn’t competitive, and learned through dance that I enjoy competing when it doesn’t involve brutality or humiliation.
Many schools don’t have the budget for dance or martial arts or yoga or whatever - why not offer an independent study option for kids who don’t fit the PE standard mold?
My schools (all the same district, from elementary to high school) worked like this as far as I could tell. I was obese all the way through and I never “ran” anything more than one straightaway, did one pull-up successfully or even climbed a rope. But I tried my hardest at everything, attempted all of the requirements and I don’t remember ever not getting an A in phys ed.
For my size I was actually good at sports, tho. So maybe that helped. I was an athletic person in an unfortunate body, so none of the activities ever daunted me.
Make it manadotory. Make dressing for it manadatory. Make it harder. Grade it for effort and improvement. Emphasize conditioning and team activities. Run them until they puke. We have to burn some lard off those asses. They need attitude adjustments too. None of this “I’m too cool for this” goth kid garbage.
Do not allow kid-to-kid bullying, but don’t mollycoddle the little pussies either. They need the excercise and they can learn a lot from team sports. They can also learn a lot from competition.