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#1 May 21 2012 at 8:12 AM Rating: Decent
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There are no federal requirements for public schools to provide for Gym. State law varies considerably. Some states only require it up through elementary school, some up through HS but with reduced frequency, others require PE courses for graduation completion etc.

With our ever increasing sedentary lives some will argue that daily gym class is more important than ever. But with schools it's just one more non-academic offering to juggle into the schedule and budget.

Is physical education even education?

Should we 'teach' gym in schools?

Should the feds mandate minimum levels of PE offerings in public schools?




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#2 May 21 2012 at 8:19 AM Rating: Good
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Illinois, the state in which I attended high school, is one of the only states that requires PE all the way through graduation. I can't say that it helped me personally keep fit during those years (I also played ice hockey 3-4 times a week), but I don't remember all too many fatties, either.

Anecdotal, sure. But it seems to me to have paid off for my classmates.
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#3 May 21 2012 at 8:38 AM Rating: Good
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I always felt gym was a waste of time after elementary school.
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#4 May 21 2012 at 8:40 AM Rating: Excellent
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Our PE classes alternated with our Health (read: *** ed) classes in high school in a sort of pseudo-semester format.

I really enjoyed the gym portions, but then again, I'm a fine, athletic specimen. That being said, they were disorganized and poorly taught. With few exceptions, the teachers basically laid out a bunch of equipment for us, and then it was laissez-faire from there on out.

The girls in the class would all cluster in the center of the court/field, and just talk, no matter the activity. They'd get knocked out with cross-court passes with amazing regularity...you'd think they'd learn to move to the side. I remember that one girl got hit in the head almost daily, and the "balls to her face" jokes were unending.

We could have done with more rigor and structure, methinks. Too much coddling for the fatties and the disinterested.

Edited, May 21st 2012 10:40am by Eske
#5 May 21 2012 at 8:40 AM Rating: Good
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I went to a private Catholic school from kindergarten on, but I took PE every year. When I got to high school we had a schedule where we did religion classes half the year and PE clases the other half. However, instead of alernating semesters, we alternated days. So the least we got was two days of PE class in a week. At the end of the year, we also did the President's Physical Fitness Test and our final grade was determined by how well we did.

I think the way PE is taught needs to be changed. When kids get to high school, they need to be taught how to exercise, not just given 45 minutes in a day when they are forced to take part in some form of physical activity. PE class should go back to the whole Health and Physical Education it used to be. The health portion can teach kids about healthy eating and how to put together a balanced diet.

I don't think the federal government needs to get any more involved in education than it already is, but I do think the states or the local school districts need to step up and make some changes to the type of health and physical education kids are getting today.
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#6 May 21 2012 at 8:40 AM Rating: Excellent
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We had our share of overweight PE participants in high school. They just sandbagged it, the teachers got sick of wasting time yelling at them, etc. Of course there were fewer "fat kids" in general back then; I think we had maybe three or four seriously heavy kids in my graduating class.

I'm sort of agnostic on PE. I don't think it'll magically make kids slim and fit but moving around a bit is good for them and can help break up the routine of sitting in a classroom for six hours a day.
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#7 May 21 2012 at 8:41 AM Rating: Excellent
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cidbahamut wrote:
I always felt gym was a waste of time after elementary school.

You never watched Amy D. playing softball in her gym uniform during junior year.
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#8 May 21 2012 at 8:43 AM Rating: Good
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Every gym class I had after grade school was basically games of dodgeball or poker. Overall completely worthless. Maybe if there was some kind of curriculum, sure. Can't say I'm sure I know how much it has changed since then, but I imagine it got worse, not better.
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#9 May 21 2012 at 9:28 AM Rating: Decent
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Gym provided an easy way to ditch out of school long enough to go get stoned.

The purpose of our gym class in HS seemed to be to introduce us to many different types of sports and recreational activity. We canoed and cross-country skied, danced, did all the normal ball type sports etc etc. That was too much. Too much time and money in equipment and logistics etc. Yet very little interest from the kids.

However, I could easily support 20mins to 1/2hour a day to simply doing calisthenics of some sort as part of the whole healthy kids learn better paradigm.

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#10 May 21 2012 at 9:30 AM Rating: Excellent
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All we ever got was running, running and more running. When they wanted to change things up they just made us run more. I'm sure it wasn't bad for me, but it did absolutely nothing to teach me how to actually maintain a healthy lifestyle.

What has helped is my sedentary lifestyle leading to chronic back pain. That's prompted me to do my own research and take steps to make sure I eat healthier and make a point of getting exercise on a regular basis. Gym class was pretty worthless in my experience.
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#11 May 21 2012 at 9:38 AM Rating: Excellent
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Gym (or "physical education" as it was called in my schools) alternated between the useless activities (like the "Mile Run" which all but a dozen kids usually walked) to the fun ones (like dodgeball or "Watusi," which was a fun alternative involving pins, a jail pit, and walls to hide from fire). It seems like by the time we got to high school we had gym only in the first two years; then it was replaced with health education or taken as an elective. Those who took is as an election usually just used the time to goof off.

I think the entire thing needs to be redefined. As others have said, many of the classes were "here's the activity, there's the equipment, see you in 40 minutes." I think it would be much more useful if we had group activities that demanded participation; say, dance classes, or yoga, or something. And I remember very little from my health classes except learning how to make crack. Which, in hindsight, was an odd thing to learn. I'm sure we also went over the food pyramid, but I think it was the burnt-out teachers who hardly cared for their positions that really made the classes pointless.

I don't know if the federal government should enforce gym, but individual schools offering gym classes should take the instructors to task over setting up a comprehensive program.
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#12 May 21 2012 at 9:55 AM Rating: Decent
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Gym in elementary school was fun, it was a lot of running around and playing with balls and such. High school was kind of annoying. Yeah, we had week-long sessions of tennis, lacrosse, volleyball, etc. but most of the days we were left to our own devices, which usually meant "girls go talk, boys go play no-rules mob basketball". They wouldn't let the few of us who wanted to work out go to the weight room, which was right across the hall.

I think that come high school, you should either have to take gym, or play a sport, each semester.
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#13 May 21 2012 at 10:06 AM Rating: Excellent
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We actually had a good amount of variety in our high school gym classes thinking back. Lots of different non-contact sports and what not. You were required to take it for something like 4 semesters. I don't remember it being all that strenuous. The only requirement for getting a decent grade was pretty much showing up, acting like you were participating, and being able to do something like 6 laps around the parking lot on the last day of the semester (something that was about a mile and a half or so, and they gave you the better part of an hour to do it).

Also, bowling. Bowling class was awesome. Almost 2 hours, and we went to the alley, ate our lunch there and had fun. Good stuff.

Anyway there were questions no?

Quote:
Is physical education even education?


Not really. In my case I like to think I did better in my classes when I got a break to get up and move around during the day, can't say that was the case for everyone though.

Quote:
Should we 'teach' gym in schools?


I like the idea of having a "gym" class be part of some fitness/health education. Leaning how to take care of yourself and stuff; physical activity being part of that. I'm not sure there's not necessarily a bunch of "learning" all the time. But people into adulthood will take fitness classes at a gym, get exercise, learn yoga, or something. Not necessarily a subject that needs to be graded harshly, or required every semester or anything.

Quote:
Should the feds mandate minimum levels of PE offerings in public schools?


I have no problem with different states having their own required levels of "gym" for their schools. Though I might have to prod some people to exercise more if national health care ever becomes a reality and I'm having to pay for some lazy slob's triple-bypass.
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#14 May 21 2012 at 10:08 AM Rating: Excellent
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The Federal government should not mandate physical education. The Federal government has no business mandating anything related to education. It also has no business funding education or tying that funding to education mandates.

Libertarians out.
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#15 May 21 2012 at 10:10 AM Rating: Good
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someproteinguy wrote:
Though I might have to prod some people to exercise more if national health care ever becomes a reality and I'm having to pay for some lazy slob's triple-bypass.

The other way to go on that is take the government out of healthcare and make people fund their own. Let them die if they can't plan far enough ahead.
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#16 May 21 2012 at 10:14 AM Rating: Good
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The college I graduated from required 3 credits of physical education for any undergraduate degree. Each course was worth 1/2 credit, and ranged from things like skiing and mountain biking, to other activities like billiards, bowling, archery and rifle classes.

The story was the original Dean was concerned that the students in an engineering and science school would stay indoors all year round and never do anything beyond school work. Same reason they said he opposed the idea of a tunnel system connecting all the buildings underground, he wanted students to go outside.
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#17 May 21 2012 at 10:15 AM Rating: Excellent
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TirithRR wrote:
The college I graduated from required 3 credits of physical education for any undergraduate degree. Each course was worth 1/2 credit, and ranged from things like skiing and mountain biking, to other activities like billiards, bowling, archery and rifle classes.

Given the per credit cost of university classes, this would annoy me mightily. Plus the wasted time for six separate classes.

Edited, May 21st 2012 11:16am by Jophiel
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#18 May 21 2012 at 10:17 AM Rating: Good
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Jophiel wrote:
TirithRR wrote:
The college I graduated from required 3 credits of physical education for any undergraduate degree. Each course was worth 1/2 credit, and ranged from things like skiing and mountain biking, to other activities like billiards, bowling, archery and rifle classes.
Given the per credit cost of university classes, this would annoy me mightily. Plus the wasted time for six separate classes.[/i]
Sounds like a good reason to take Rifle classes.
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#19 May 21 2012 at 10:19 AM Rating: Good
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It was very annoying. But mostly because the campus was on the side of a very large hill (small mountain?) and it was a 1 mile hike up hill to the Student Development Complex where all the courses were offered. Trekking up that hill in the middle of winter sucked. (I didn't bring a vehicle with me when I was in college, I found not having a vehicle made it much easier to save money).

Edit:
The cost per class was kept low. They did not have set instructors for the courses, they were run by students. So they didn't have to pay instructor wages, they just paid part time wages to a student who needed work.

Edited, May 21st 2012 12:22pm by TirithRR
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#20 May 21 2012 at 10:20 AM Rating: Good
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Our grades in gym were based 100% on whether or not we brought gym clothes with us. Any day that you forgot your clothes, you'd lose 8 points off your final average.

There was an alternative, which was to try to find something from the lost & found. Once, an overweight classmate who had forgotten his clothes for the umpteenth time tried to dig out something that would fit from the lost & found to avoid failing gym. He was only able to secure a pair of way-too-small shorts that didn't even cover the bottom of his boxers, so he looked like he was wearing hot pants with his underwear coming out of the bottom.

When he tried to take them off at the end of the day, he actually broke two fingers in the elastic band during the struggle.
#21 May 21 2012 at 2:49 PM Rating: Default
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When I was in school, until I was in grade 8, we had an hour of "gym" 3 times per week, plus 15 mins of recess in the morning and afternoon, and half an hour during lunch. When I was in grade 9, Phys Ed was a mandatory course, but it wasn't after that, though I took a Phys Ed class in grade 12 that I had to pay for that went and did things like Scuba diving, Canoeing, rock climbing, etc.

Really, there should be some mandatory Phys Ed. in schools, but most of the job of keeping children in shape needs to fall on the parents. Mine never sat us down in front of the tv or video games unless it was raining. The rule was, could play video games for an hour at a time, and wouldn't be able to play more unless we went outside and played for an hour or two until high school.

If parents refuse to keep their child active, they shouldn't complain that the schools aren't doing a good enough job of it.
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#22 May 21 2012 at 3:36 PM Rating: Excellent
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Demea wrote:
Illinois, the state in which I attended high school, is one of the only states that requires PE all the way through graduation. I can't say that it helped me personally keep fit during those years (I also played ice hockey 3-4 times a week), but I don't remember all too many fatties, either.

Anecdotal, sure. But it seems to me to have paid off for my classmates.

As an Illinoisian, this has always bothered me that gym was required for 4 years, but none of the academic classes were. When I was in HS, I think English was 3 years and math-science only 2.

The only thing I learned was the PE teachers I had were idiots when it came to grading tests. (Didn't help that I was a smart-*** either) For example, 20 question test worth 10 points (score rounded down). I got test back 19/20 correct, so a 9/10 score. When reviewing the test, the question I missed was actually correct so I should have had a 10/10 score. My teacher kept telling me that since the missed question was only worth 1/2 a point, it didn't matter. When I tried pointing out that if she hadn't marked it wrong, I would have a perfect score and why doesn't she get that. I get sent to the office over that one.
#23 May 21 2012 at 3:37 PM Rating: Excellent
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I had gym up until I graduated. And, honestly, I'm ambivalent. I was overweight in high school. Not ridiculously fat, but far from athletic. The biggest problem with gym class? It's taught by people who are athletic, and generally have been much of their lives, primarily for the sake of those who are not. This leads to a pretty big disconnect that makes the current system more or less useless.

Most sports are competitive. This isn't the fault of gym teachers, it's just an anthropological part of why athletic activities evolved. Thing is, gym is required to be provided (in NJ) for the sake of the sedentary students.

Sedentary students are, generally speaking, the ones who won't be winning any of those competitions. They'll be at the bottom of the ladder every time. It's not a good feeling, and it makes you completely disconnect from the activities at hand. You end up doing everything you can to stay out of the actual action, for fear of having to prove how useless you are.

Instead of trying and foster a completely non-competitive atmosphere, most gym teachers end up encouraging one. Not because they're @#%^s or bad teachers, but because that's what their concept of a gym class is, and it's what makes use of the activities they have learned. They've probably never been the kid who wants anything but getting passed the ball. And if they were, they're probably proud enough of leaving that past behind that they've ended up more competitive. In general, male teachers have been consistently worse than female teachers my entire school career, by a large margin, which isn't surprising.

I'm not saying gym teachers need to be fatties. But unless the teaching philosophy of gym classes changes to actually match the philosophy for why their classes are mandatory, then that time is just completely wasted. Actually, I'd be highly willing to suggest that it's downright damaging in nearly all cases. Because you end up correlating your dislike of the class with a dislike for physical activity. I've only recently begun to lose this impression, to be honest. I've had access to a gym for four years at college, and didn't start going at all until my last year. And it's because I saw the gym the same way I saw gym class, which is really sad.

[EDIT]

In NJ, you need 4 years of English and, I think, 4 years of Math. 3 years of lab science and History. You need PE every year you are in school, though you can opt out if you participate in other extra-curricular athletics (subject to your school's restrictions). The only classes I had to take my senior year were English and PE, because I had taken Statistics and AP Biology earlier. Had they offered AP Lit before my senior year, it would have been very easy for me to graduate early.

Edited, May 21st 2012 5:41pm by idiggory
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#24 May 21 2012 at 4:13 PM Rating: Decent
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You know, I was actually sort of sad when it hit 5:00 pm for me and Gbaji hadn't posted a wall of text response in this thread.

then Diggs went and made it all better! Smiley: nod
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#25 May 21 2012 at 4:21 PM Rating: Excellent
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I'm certain that I had to take four years of English in high school and fairly sure we had at least three years of both math and science. I think they recommended four of each for college but let you stop with three. I graduated in 1991 though so maybe things have changed.

While I had four years of supposed PE, they counted driver's ed and health classes into that so it was more like 2.5 years of gym and 1.5 years of miscellaneous. And one of those years of gym was spent on archery, bowling and twacking practice golf balls off a hill and onto the football practice field.
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#26 May 21 2012 at 4:34 PM Rating: Good
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I did 4 years of English, math, social studies, and science, 2 years of PE, 2 years of religion (Catholic school, remember?), and for the life of me I can't remember what the last subject was. I know I took a 5th credit of science and I took an intro to computer programming, but that still leaves 2 more classes I can't account for.

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