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Back in the day, school was never something that came easy to me. I was never able to grasp the concepts that everyone else got so quickly. I specifically remember sitting with tutors for HOURS, trying to go over what I had learned that day in school. The only problem was… I hadn’t learned anything to go over. In fact, until I saw a tutor, I don’t think I passed a single test.
Old School ADHD Meds
Like many kids today, I struggled with ADHD, and wasn’t able to sit and concentrate. At the time, medication wasn’t as common and neither was the diagnosis. My parents would say, “go run around the house 4 times and then come do your homework” — that's how things were handled. But you know what? It worked. That is how I got myself through elementary school, high school, college, and graduate school.
As you can imagine, there weren’t many subjects that I enjoyed in school. Whenever someone would ask me what my favorite class was, I would instantly respond “gym!” They would laugh and say “that’s not a real class…” and to that I would give them my smart-ass look and say, “if it’s not a real class, then why would they have it in school?”. With usually nothing to respond, the conversation would be over and I would walk away with a smile.
We had physical education 3 times a week, and boy was I thrilled each time it came around. The uniforms, the competition between my friends, and the games! Gosh, I loved those games. But let’s be honest… the only kids who didn’t like gym were the kids who were bad at it. So it gave me even more of a thrill. Why? A few reasons.
Physical Education Was My Thing
Looking back, I guess I loved it so much because I felt like everyone else had “their thing”. Almost everyone I knew was good at school, learning, taking tests etc. I was terrible when it came to anything academic. Once I was able to show my athletic abilities in gym class 3 times a week, I was able to build up my self esteem and feel good about myself. For children who aren’t always successful in more traditional academics, having something where he or she can feel great and accomplished is essential to healthy development.
In addition to being really good at PE, it also helped me sit for the rest of the day. This was true for the majority of my friends as well. We weren’t lazy kids – don’t get me wrong – but when we went outside for recesses or came back from a intense gym class, we would be exhausted and ready to sit in our chairs for the rest of the day.
I think that physical education is one of the most important things that a growing child can experience during their day of learning. But now it’s time to play devil's advocate, and here is the big question: what about the kids who aren’t able to excel in physical education? We can all think of certain individuals who never quite fit the mold when it came to sports and athletics. Is having a gym class fair to them? Everyone feels bad for the kids who are picked last in baseball… but what’s the solution here? Should kids stop playing baseball altogether because there are kids who aren’t good at it? What I have to say to that is life’s not fair. You can’t be good at everything. I wasn’t good at learning and test taking, so it’s okay that not everyone is good at gym. (Trust me, I would have much preferred for school to come easy to me than PE!)
What's the Objective of Physical Education?
Let’s talk about solutions. Although I see physical education as a MUST and such an important part of a young adult's development, I can also see why people would rather the class be an elective. Even if it's still a requirement, people feel that maybe it shouldn't be taken as seriously as other classes; for example, it shouldn't be possible to “fail” at PE. Yes, gym is a real subject that should be taken just a seriously as anything else… but if someone is naturally built a certain way and can’t climb the damn rope to the ceiling because of their body shape and size, then give the poor kid some slack!
You can read this article and think that it's just the opinion of on person, but my thoughts on the matter also happens to be based on experience and statistics. Lets take a look at the facts: what specifically is the importance of physical education, and how does it contribute to the development of our children? No one questions the importance of education, just physical education, why?
Statistics have shown that PE promotes the following:
- Healthy & active lifestyles
- Increased physical fitness
- Movement and behavioral skills
- Skill development
- Experience setting goals
- Self discipline
- Strengthened peer relationships
Obviously not everyone has the same experience with the same class, but for most children and young adults, physical education is as crucial a part of the school schedule today as it was in any other generation.
The Digital Age Brings Us Down
Any smart person who takes a step back from society today can see the downfall of physical activity due to modern technology. When I was growing up (not too long ago!) when my friends and I wanted to have a good time we would go outside and have an adventure. When we would get bored we would play a game or do some kind of activity that actually involved interacting with each other.
Today, if you tell your child to go play outside, they will most probably shrug their shoulders, pick up their Iphone or computer, and decide to go on Facebook or watch a movie. Unfortunately, this has become the sad reality of the present generation. You don’t even have to be in the same country when you want to talk to someone! Just a few taps to your phone and you're able to write a whole conversation within seconds with zero effort or interaction required. You can go on the internet and develop a deep romantic relationship with someone you’ve never actually met! Can you believe it? Of course you can, because that has become our reality. Is it cool? I guess so… but is all this screen healthy? Absolutely not. Apparently being healthy isn’t what matters these days.
This reason is in itself a cry for the need of physical education. Children will be children; they are only expected to know what’s in front of them. It is our job as the “advisors” of this generation to lead our children to be the healthiest versions of themselves that they can be.
That being said, the need to get our children active applies today more than any other time. As our children grow up, we have less and less control over telling our children what to do and how to do it, but I think that the requirement of PE in the education system is one that should stay until the end of time. A strong and healthy child is a happy child in the long run. Wouldn’t you agree?