You know what class this is? P.E. You know what that stands for? Physical Excersise.
This quote is attributed to a P.E. sub at my high school. I’m paraphrasing, because I don’t remember the actual words, but believe me: this phrase was actually uttered by a substitute P.E. teacher. Perhaps this wasn’t the best way to start of the blog post. Let’s go back a bit.
A couple weeks ago, I needed a form signed so I could go on a field trip. All of my teachers need to sign a form saying that it’s OK for me to skip out on class, and acknowleging that they realize that I’m not going to be in class that day. Granted, most teachers just sign the form without looking at the date, but that’s beside the point.
On this form, we also have to write which class we have each hour. So, for my seventh hour class I wrote the following: Gym. Seemed fine to me. I go up to my teacher and have her sign it. She first crosses out “gym” and writes “PE”, then signs the form (all without saying anything to me). I thought this was slightly humorous. I didn’t think much of it because, after all, the form was signed. However, I’ve started to think more and more of this small action.
To me, and to most of the world, PE stands for Physical Education. Education, to me, implies that I will learn something. It could be useless information, and it could be useful information, regardless, I should learn something. I would attribute a class like Health to this title. It suits all the requirements: physical — You learn about how your body functions and how to keep yourself healthy; education — did I not just use the word learn?
Let me make this a bit more clear. Here’s how Google defines eduction:
knowledge acquired by learning and instruction
Once again, the key words here are knowlege, learning, and instruction. These are the three important requirements in order to have the “education part.”
I would define my “P.E.” class this year as anything but that. It consists of:
Today we’re playing tennis. Grab a ball, racket, and partner, and start playing tennis.
No instruction, no guidance, no help while attempting to play the sport, just a: “This is what we’re doing. Go.” So, where, then, does the education come in?
Freshman and sophomore year was different: we actually learned about the muscles and bones in our body. We learned about what excersises work which muscles, and we were taught easy excersises to help keep us in shape. Once again: we learned. This was not gym class, it truly was physical education.
So, I suggest a reform of the class. Because Illinois is the only state that still requires four years of gym P.E. in high school, we must be true to the classes title: teach us. It doesn’t even have to be individual attention (although that would be nice). But, at least inform us of the rules of tennis before telling us to play. If you want to get really crazy, try to make us play by the rules. If we are going to take Physical Education, let’s keep the Education there.
Although, I’ve heard an alternative suggestion: make P.E. half-classroom. This alternative would suit Illinois perfectly. We could still have a P.E. class, but we would actually learn. Once the program got started, the school could start offering “specialized” P.E. classes, where you can learn about one specific topic. You could then take the P.E. class that sounded most interesting to you, instead of being stuck in a general gym class.
After all this, I have to question my school’s definition of P.E. I was always taught that P.E. stood for Physical Education (acronym finder agrees), but it seems the crazy old gym teacher is right: PE stands for Physical Excersise.
I often hear from my friends (and I’ll admit to helping spread the rumor) that Illinois is the only state that still requires four years of gym in high school. Technically, the rumor is eight semesters, but I’m still not sure of its validity. I’m fairly certain that this is a state requirement, but is Illinois the only state with this requirement?
Being a computer geek, I’ve always found gym slightly useless. A class where they make you run around for however long they feel like it, for no reason. Usually, the teacher doesn’t even participate in the activity, or give demonstrations for activities. Teachers in gym seem to not be teachers, but lesson planners. They plan what the class will do each day. Sometimes, as is the case in my high school, this isn’t even up to them. The department chooses when each class will do each activity. Although, it’s still up to the teachers to decide how to go about doing this activity.
Regardless, gym has always seemed to be more of a punishment than a class. This is due to the fact that they only have two punishment options: make us fail (which doesn’t work for one-time offenses), or make us do more physical activity (running, usually). Because physical activity is so often used as a punishment, we learn to associate it with punishment. Let me give an example. Let’s say that you enjoy, or can at least tolerate, doing push-ups. You can do 30 push-ups without any problem. Your gym teacher decides to make ten push-ups a punishment for some offense. You don’t really mind push-ups, so you end up goofing off. You get “punished” once, twice, three times. However, you don’t realize that you’ve already done thirty, so keep goofing off. Eventually, you’ve done forty, fifty, sixty push-ups in a day: way more than you’re comfortable with. Now that you’ve been made to do the extra push-ups, you associate push-ups with punishment, and now loathe doing push-ups. (continue reading…)