Pet Peeves and Suggestions About Physical Education in Our State:

1. PE classes alienate the students who the classes are supposed to teach. Anyone who is slightly overweight is immediately intimidated by PE classes. We lose them around first grade.
2. PE teachers focus on competition and team sports. They discourage students from listening to their body when they are in pain. They discourage students from doing fitness at their level that they can enjoy. The only students who survive socially are the ones who can win and earn points. This is not how we educate students in English or math. We don’t pick teams right in first grade and shun away anyone who cannot read or write. If we did, the slower students would stay forever behind.
3. PE classes do not teach the kinds of exercises fit adults end up doing. Why not teach students the kind of fitness they will actually maintain?
4. PE curriculum is old, taught by teachers who are learning the wrong, outdated information. It is time to teach students exercises like those taught in Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, as well as jogging at their pace, dance vocabulary, and physiology. When they do pilates, yoga, and other sports, they should not be graded on their ability but rather on their attitude and effort.
5. PE should be done indoors whenever possible to avoid the harmful sunrays.
6. Schools should be equipped with indoor gyms like free weights for students, yoga mats, and other gym accessories in kid sizes.
7. Schools should lend their facilities to students for use after hours, like student gyms.
8. Traveling teachers should come to teach at kid gyms classes that work for every level, like the yoga, pilates, Zumba, and other fun classes.
9. There must be a business model in which students can be members of the school’s gym after hours and get this to be supported by the health care companies who help pay for the equipment and the teachers.
10. PE curriculum has to include lessons about nutrition and anatomy. Students need to understand and visualize how food, sleep, and exercise affect their body inside. They should know why their muscles cramp up. They should know when to stop and when to push themselves. They should know the effects of sugar, caffeine, pain killers, and drugs. Students will exercise and eat better if they see the effect the two have on them internally.
11. Many PE teachers are not very educated themselves. They often use inappropriate language. Children don’t always report this–mostly because they are embarrassed. But the wrong psychology is prevalent among PE teachers. They might slap kids to get them to go faster, or use discouraging language. They pass on the attitudes they used to get, as well as biases against the slow pokes or the smart ones. It’s so sad. We send our children to the best schools we can find academically, and then hire PE teachers who scream at them, as if that’s the way to get them to love fitness.
12. Children need to learn to love to stay fit for life. They shouldn’t have to do things that hurt. They shouldn’t have to jump when they are still sleepy. They should not have to run before stretching. There is a logical order to fitness. There is a biological reason for it. There is wisdom in many different disciplines. It is time to rewrite the PE curriculum to fuse together the insights in different disciplines. I would start by taking the yoga calmness and welcoming smile and expecting my children’s PE teachers to take on that aura.

I HeartMark You, 🙂

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