'Getting Started on the School System' PT V: Physically Educated

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            I could dedicate an entire segment to PE. The importance of physical education is paramount in our efforts to produce well rounded young people. Having grown up in the American school system, I have years of experience with how this education of physicality is handed down. We are going to put the State Standards for K-12 Physical Education under a microscope and see what it’s really about. Also, discuss a couple of extenuating circumstances that we need to collaborate on for a better future. 

          I want to let everyone know these are the standards for Arizona. I’m pretty sure most states would be somewhere in the same ballpark, standards-wise. The mission statement boldly printed at the top, (not bold, like that. The other kind) read, “The goal of physical education is to develop physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity”. That’s quite an ear full for a class most would consider an ‘easy elective’. Arizona adopted five standards in 2015 to measure their effectiveness at… fulfilling their mission statement, I guess? Either way, the five standards are as follows: competency in variety of motor skills and movement patterns. Application of knowledge in concept, principle, strategy and tactics related to movement and performance. Demonstration of knowledge and skills to achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness. Exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others. Recognition of value in physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression and or social interaction.

          Dude, first off. Am I in The Twilight Zone? Those standards are so far from reality that they might as well have been written by Bigfoot. Standard One: Competency in motor skills. This is obviously not getting carried out, the proof is all around. Our society as a whole has an alarmingly difficult time adapting quickly to situations. We can see this in our driving. Imagine cruising down the freeway in the HOV Lane, while the rest of the lanes are bumper to bumper. Some guy in the most left ‘non-HOV Lane’ gets a little crazy and merges into your lane at a way slower speed. Next thing you know you are about to climb right into the ass of what ever pickup truck just illegally entered YOUR lane. 9 out of 10 times that is an accident. If you weren’t able to follow, don’t fret, my point was just that our reaction time is slow, which means competency of motor skills and movement patterns is a package for us as a population that we have not signed for yet. If you do get into that situation and your answer is to slam on the breaks, you’re wrong… ish. You could do that, but you’d have to solve a few basic physics formulas in under a second inside your head. The more reliable avoidance measure for that would be to tilt your wheel 10º to the left, accelerate, and find yourself a nice home in the shoulder lane. Standard Two: movement and performance, the biggest focus here is social and technical dance and rhythmic movements. Get me to the club and you will see that standard two is bullshit. Standard Three: achieving health-enhancing level of physical activity and fitness investigates relationships among activity and nutrition. My only problem with this is that our whole nutrition system is proven to be horrible for our health. How is it that we can effectively demonstrate the relationships between activity and nutrition if the basis of our nutritional data is wrong? Also, it goes on to mention the importance of appropriate technique in resistance training. To give you an idea of how this is going, try going to your gym and about 4 PM when all the high schoolers are out of class and eager to demonstrate how appropriate their technique really is. Good on them for getting in there and getting some work in. My issue isn’t with the kids. However, usually there’s a lot of weights clanging, muscles getting all kinds of snapped up and someone getting hurt. Injuries are so discouraging to ANYONE’S fitness efforts, ask any athlete who’s had to miss a game for an injury. Standard Four: Exhibition of responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others. This one is actually pretty well-held. Rules, fairness, safety and participation trophies. Standard Five is all about recognizing the value of physical activity and sadly, in a world of gadgets, that value is lost.

          Obviously that was long winded and believe me, I didn’t want it to be anymore that you did. I’ve got other shit to do, anyway. There are a couple of issues that we have to come together and collaborate on. The first being safety, we have got to get on the same page with this. What’s safe vs. what isn’t safe might seem objective but if you look into it, it is much more absolute. Continuous learning of activities and their risks allows us to determine what is or is not safe. We’ve got to be having these conversations with each other. Learn and spread the word. Do research, examine both sides of what ever you’re doing and always follow the money. 

          Lastly, Like most other things, it comes down to money. Simply put, schools don’t have money. Educators already have had to cut back on projects they deem imperative, districts have been forced to cut back on extracurricular programs, unfortunately, PE is nothing but constant cut back and underfunding. The point of this article is to show if we could optimize physical education, not only are we preventing HOV crashes, but actually fulfill the purpose of the course. In order to optimize the class, we need to optimize the school’s finances. Thank you for reading.