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P.E or Not P.E.

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Old 12-01-2009, 11:38 PM   #1
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I read in our local paper this morning that 37% of students in 5th ~ 7th ~ 9th Grades in our area are passing the state physical fitness tests. To pass a 13 yr old boy needs to do 21 sit-ups, 12 push-ups and run a mile in 10 minutes, among other things. For girls and younger students the goals are lower. Our area is higher than the norm...33% is the norm for the state.

Does that make anyone else

I can remember when I was in 9th grade...we almost always got close to 60 sit-ups in a minute....Over 30 push-ups in a minute....maybe not ALL perfect... and it was no problem to run a mile under 10 minutes...

I am a father that had an athletic son....basketball, cross-country and track all 4 years of high school ~ 8 Varsity Letters...4 years college track

I am the father of a NON-athletic daughter ....4 years tennis, 2 years track...4 Varsity Letters...college tennis 4 years...Academic All-American 3 years

Today my son is 28, a high school teacher and coach of his high school's boy's track team...a school of almost 4,000 students. He is a part time gym rat....every bone in his body is athletic.

Today my daughter is 26, a scientist working with our NAVY...she runs and trains for marathons. She plays tennis, competitive almost every week. She also volunteers her time with a group called Girls On The Run where she runs and coaches young girls, and walks an alzheimer's patient 2 days a week...not a single bone in her body is athletic!

I played with my son...he was born an athlete....not a super star...sometimes a star...solid. From the time he was young until I couldn't throw anymore we played catch.

My daughter watched us...and played with her dolls...we would drop the game for a bit and go "tea party"....until one day she said..."I want to try that"...the THAT was tennis...

From that day forward I encouraged (through words and actions) my daughter, who had zero athletic bones in her body. From that encouragement she took it to a level that I could not have imagined possible. She runs marathons, she has competed and won Nationals at the college level in tennis. This is a girl, at age 10, could not throw a tennis ball up for the serve...let alone hit it.

I enjoyed the time working with my daughter and her tennis... I am not saying it wasn't frustrating at times...girls are not boys!

What I am saying is THIS....

If it wasn't for my encouragement and work with her...her coaches and her own desire...she would not be running marathons today and playing tennis in a competitive league ....

She had a good PE coach in middle school....encouragement came from someone other than her daddy...

I believe in PE in school....I also believe it should have a pass or fail grade....same as music and art....I believe they are God given talents...

But I also believe that we can push ourselves and our children to the maximum of their potential...in a good and loving way...

I believe in PE in school...and I also believe less than 40% of our children failing to make minimum requirements is unacceptable!

What do you think?
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Old 12-02-2009, 12:21 AM   #2
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I believe in PE in schools. I also believe that last week of the class shouldn't be the first time students see those requirments. When I was in PE we played sports that required running. But, well, if you're slow you just get left behind and don't have to run as much because you can't keep up anyways. We never trained for that 12 min mile or whatever the girl requirment was; it was just assigned to us one day.
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Old 12-02-2009, 01:07 AM   #3
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I do think that PE in schools is important, but I think that PE programs could do more to encourage people who aren't so great at the "standard" gym activities. Using myself as an example, I had horrendous knees (surgery on one at 16, one at 24), and running was really, really painful. A 10 minute mile was out of reach for me, regardless of lung capacity or training. But there were also things I was good at...the dance unit, and weight lifting...but on all but a few days a year, there was no opportunity to do those things. The only options were things that I couldn't do...so I got more and more behind in terms of fitness.

I understand PE programs have trouble securing resources, but I think that splitting time more evenly between the activities that come naturally to athletic kids (running, basic sports) and the activities that are new to most people (dance, I remember doing a golf unit once) or relatively non-competitive (weight lifting) might help kids, like me, with physical limitations or just severe non-athleticism to feel more comfortable in PE. And that might help those kids find a love for activity that would keep them fit much better than being told they "failed" at one rather arbitrary set of measures of fitness.
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Old 12-02-2009, 01:19 AM   #4
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In high school, my favorite PE classes were the ones where we were taught self defense. THAT was fun. We even got to fight back at the end (the officers teaching us wore a full body padded suit, including a face guard like hockey goalies). I went to an all girls school, so they thought it was important to teach us self defense.

Second favorite? The classes where the coaches set up TVs so we could work out to Tae Bo videos.

PE should very much be a part of school. Kids need an outlet to get some energy out...instead of sitting in desks all day.
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Old 12-02-2009, 01:52 AM   #5
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not only do they need an outlet for their energy they need a supportive environment! I was a struggler, a straggler when it came to PE. And I remember several times being singled out and humiliated by my teachers for it. I can't blame my being fat on it- but I can certainly attribute some of my hatred for exercise to it.
i wonder how it would be if they did some testing at the beginning of the year and then separated the athletic kids from the non-athletic kids and taught them to their own needs.
The only class I enjoyed was one all girls class- we did line dancing, exercise videos, and i actually put effort into it and tried. it was the only time i did.
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Old 12-02-2009, 02:48 AM   #6
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I think PE is important, but the way it is taught needs to be changed a bit, at least here. I dont know how it compares to the US but when I was at high school I struggled with PE and never got help. I wasnt athletic. I didnt choose to do many sports or athletics in my spare time. I played netball and was bad at it, but enjoyed it, that was it. So I didnt know how to do the gymnastics, play volleyball, soccer, run properly etc that we did in PE. And no one ever showed me how. In Maths, English etc if a student is struggling, falling behind and FAILING they get extra help. In PE nothing like that happened. I was useless at it, I hated it, and spent most of my time trying to get out of it.

The worst was cross country. I actually told my PE teacher once that I didnt want to do it because I knew I was going to do badly. I guess I was looking for encouragement. My PE teacher said something along the lines of "oh well, aim for a C and get a D" > That was when I was 13. 7 years later, I decide to give running a go. SEVEN YEARS

I think PE is important. But theres gotta be a better way to treat kids who arent naturally good at it.
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Old 12-02-2009, 02:55 AM   #7
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I agree with Mandalinn 100%.
I played sports and danced all through my elementary/middle school days and was never able to run a mile in under 10 minutes. Some of us just aren't runners and requiring that, in the face of ignoring the importance of other cardio, seems inefficient to me.

Honestly, i think the point of PE is to encourage children to be active and introduce them to activities they may not be aware of; burning off some energy is an added bonus. Giving kids 1 hour of PE a week and then blaming them when they don't make major athletic goals is just begging kids to stop trying because they can't make the cut.
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Old 12-02-2009, 02:57 AM   #8
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I spent a year at a private school that did not have P.E. but instead made all of their students participate in three different sports a year. It gave me confidence and comradeship. I was, without a doubt, the most toned and athletic I had ever been in my life, and I loved it.

I transferred back to a public school the next year, and the school figured I had earned 3 YEARS worth of public school P.E. credits.

If the public school I attended had field hockey, swimming, or soccer I would have continued, but the only offered volleyball and softball for girls. Without a doubt, it's got to be a funding issue.
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Old 12-02-2009, 07:23 AM   #9
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Our middle school offers a a great PE program. They teach 'life time fitness activities' rather than just sports. The kids sign up for the modules they want, things like walking, bike riding, cross country skiing, trekking on snowshoes, archery, basketball, weights, fitness videos, etc. The kids seem to really enjoy it and participate eagerly. It's an encouraging and empowering environment. (Most of the equipment has been secured through grants, fundraising and donations.)

The high school program is more traditional though, sports based and stressing performance. A positive experience for the athletic kids, a so-so experience for the average kids but a tough one for those who aren't into sports and are trying to 'catch up' in time to make a passing grade....

I would love to see programs similar to the one in our middle school at all middle and high schools. I enjoyed PE when I was in school but once I graduated I rarely played basketball, soccer, floor hockey, etc again.

I do ski and snowshoe and bike ride now, but I didn't get into any of those things until our kids were old enough to be interested in trying them.... I wonder if it would have been different if I'd done those things earlier in my life.
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Old 12-02-2009, 08:03 AM   #10
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Ooooo, don't even get me started on this one. I'm an elementary teacher and over the past 22 years I've seen a huge shift in kids. No one, and I mean NO ONE, wants to link the huge rise in behavior problems, poor grades, or ADHD/ADD diagnosis to the unbelievable demands being placed on children to sit still for hours at a time, and for longer days, in order to raise test scores.

Yes, yes, yes...to PE, and why shouldn't it be fun? And while we're at it, what about recess? It's gone from a half hour of unstructured time to play to 15 minutes of structured activity. In some places it's been gotten rid of entirely. Lunch is cut in half, with some children who have to go through the lunchline being given 10 min. or less to eat - talk about developing healthy eating habits. Students are expected to have homework every night and often do not go outside to play in the afternoon. The very children who need the increased activity outside of school hours because of the amount of time it has been decreased in school - and who are the most likely to be "ADHD" or behavior problems - are placed in after school tutoring programs to extend the day another hour and a half. The children who are not, are usually in clubs and activities to "enrich" their minds.

Then, as a teacher, I am told that it is MY responsibility to increase their activity in the classroom by letting them get out of their seats to stretch so they will be healthier. Like this is supposed to take the place of really playing? When I have complained about the length of recess, I have been told it is "not an option" to lengthen it. The master schedule will not permit it. When I don't assign a lot of homework, or the homework is easy, the parents complain that they want more.

We have been pushing exercise and health to the bottom of the list for years and downplaying the value of play. Why are people surprised that fitness scores are falling? What do we expect?
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Old 12-02-2009, 08:50 AM   #11
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I hated PE with a passion once I started gaining weight, around age 10. Before then I was pretty active, and still played summer softball. But during the school year I was the abnormally tall "fat" kid in my class. I had to wear a bra when none of the other girls did, and my pants never fit right.

Those "Presidential Fitness Tests" were the worst. I couldn't do any pull-ups, and was about the only kid in the class who couldn't do it. My sit ups weren't up to par, and more than once (with some boy holding my feet at the time) my pants unzipped while I was doing them because they were too tight for my growing belly. And running? Not a chance. I failed them and was one of MAYBE two kids in my class who didn't get the certificate at the end. I think stuff like that made me retreat further into my shell than I already was...

That being said...PE is very important in school. I started hating PE when it became a contest. We played kickball and nobody wanted me on the team. We played dodgeball and I got hit first because I was the "fat girl" and my team even wanted me out. When it was big, playful group activities where nobody was "last" or "out," we all had fun. And we all played and were active.

The other day I had the "honor" of having to go to the elementary activity room during a "PE" class. There were a list of stretches on the board that the kids went through, sorta...then there was a lot of sitting around and waiting. Not sure how long they had in class, but I left before any real activity was accomplished.
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Old 12-02-2009, 09:01 AM   #12
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I am very thankful to have an active daughter who loves PE. She is also very active at home and hates it when it rains cause she has to stay inside Schools here only have one recess. When I was a kid we had two recesses. Kids need to let go of some of that energy. Also, parents need to get outside with their kiddos and "play" sometimes. I know most places these days arent safe and you have to worry about the safety of your kids (thats another story) but you can get out there with them too sometimes. We love to throw the frisbee and take walks. I think the less kids are active at home, the less active they will be at school. They just aren't used to the exercise. I hope someday to be able to keep up a little more with the energy my daughter has....just gonna take one day at a time for now
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Old 12-02-2009, 11:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MindiV View Post
I hated PE with a passion once I started gaining weight, around age 10. Before then I was pretty active, and still played summer softball. But during the school year I was the abnormally tall "fat" kid in my class. I had to wear a bra when none of the other girls did, and my pants never fit right.

Those "Presidential Fitness Tests" were the worst. I couldn't do any pull-ups, and was about the only kid in the class who couldn't do it. My sit ups weren't up to par, and more than once (with some boy holding my feet at the time) my pants unzipped while I was doing them because they were too tight for my growing belly. And running? Not a chance. I failed them and was one of MAYBE two kids in my class who didn't get the certificate at the end. I think stuff like that made me retreat further into my shell than I already was...

That being said...PE is very important in school. I started hating PE when it became a contest. We played kickball and nobody wanted me on the team. We played dodgeball and I got hit first because I was the "fat girl" and my team even wanted me out. When it was big, playful group activities where nobody was "last" or "out," we all had fun. And we all played and were active.
very similar to my experience. I remember having very nice PE teachers, but because I was so heavy and out of shape, participating sucked. and the team competitions, being picked last, feeling very inept and unwanted in physical activities, totally killed my desire to do anything athletic (and my confidence that I could do it).

kids who are heavy to obese do need different considerations when it comes to physical education imho. they shouldn't have to fear and loath physical activity and PE the way I did, and look at it as a humiliating experience. physical activity can foster the desire to eat healthier and be healthier.

funny, all my neices and nephews are EXTREMELY athletic, 3 nephews play on college football teams and 3 neices play baseball (one on a college team).

I'm not sure why you call your daughter unathletic, Gary, she sounds very athletic to me.
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Old 12-02-2009, 11:48 AM   #14
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I think the tests in PE shouldn't be a set number that everyone has to do, but perhaps a percentage of improvement. Do a pre-test at the beginning of the semester and a post-test at the end. Students should be compared to themselves, not each other. When I took weight training my senior years of highschool, I was the only girl in the class who was not an athlete on a team. No one else was overweight, much less obese. One of the requirements for our final was to squat our bodyweight once. Sure, it's only one rep, but I weighed 260lbs. I pulled the coach aside and pointed out that this was obviously a rediculous requirement for me. I started the class lifting maybe 70 lbs, no way could I lift 260 by the end. He agreed that that would be impossible for me and had me lift the weight of the next heaviest girl in the class (185 lbs). It was still really hard but I was able to do it.
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Old 12-02-2009, 11:49 AM   #15
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Since I've not been out of high school a long time, I feel the need to chime in here. I remember recess in elementary school as a time to run and play, but I do know that as I got older it turned into walking slowly and talking to friends. Junior high came and I remember (vividly) this President's Fitness Test. We had never even practiced pull ups, yet had to eke them out somehow. I managed to jog/walk the mile in 12:21. It was really difficult! The sit-ups I had no problem. I know that we never practiced the mile run, nor pull ups. To be honest, I can't remember what we did in PE. Though I do recall that both years my PE teachers were very overweight and didn't do any activity with us. High school comes along and they only require 2 years of PE to graduate. Since I'd always been more of an intellectual, I did my two years of PE and was done with it. Thanks to my teenage metabolism, I stayed average size.
I think PE is very important in schools! There are too many parents these days that don't care what their child does once they get home from school or aren't healthy rolemodels. However, I think the influence (at least here in SoCal) has been transferred over to academics and how we test compared the rest of the states. My younger brother was 6 years behind me in school and by the time he came through, most things were different. His recess time was cut short, I only heard about outdoor sports maybe once a week (instead of daily), and the time given to do these things had been cut almost in half. Instead, they were learning to test. It's like they can't find the happy medium, where the children feel engaged in class enough to learn as well as feeling engaged outside of the classroom so that they can also be physically active. It's sad, really.
I just have to add that I'm really glad I enjoy running. Lucky me, my husband also enjoys running. When we decide to have children, we're definitely putting them in sports and taking them running with us if they're interested. In the end, it is the parent's responsibility to be sure their children are getting all they need.
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