Academic Excellence Must Include Physical Education. (the Physical Educator)

Article excerpt

Abstract

Physical education has long been an integral part of the school curriculum. However, many times the instruction is very similar from one grade to the next in middle/junior and senior high school. Physical education curricula should be sequential to promote lifelong physical activity. The problem is that primary and secondary physical education often invokes spectator sports or group activities, yet few individuals ever have the opportunity or desire to engage in such pursuits throughout adulthood. Physical educators within the schools have failed to address the components of health-related fitness within physical education such as body composition, cardiorespiratory endurance and musculoskeletal fitness. Instead, the bulk of instruction tends to be geared towards developing the components of skill-related fitness such as speed, agility, and muscular power. The majority of our states require only one year of physical education or have no requirements in grades 9-12. The debate among politicians, school administrators, teachers and parents concerns the value of subject matter as it relates to improving national test scores. The educational philosophy today is to compromise or even eliminate physical development in the hope of improving one's cognition. It is plausible that a decline in all aspects of the educational paradigm will suffer from an unbalanced approach to improving the whole.

The requirement of physical education has long been an integral part of the school curriculum. However, many times the instruction is very similar from one grade to the next in middle/ junior and senior high school. The same skills that are taught in sixth grade softball are re-taught each year through the twelfth grade. For the most part, students never experience a difference in content from one year to the next. This certainly doesn't happen in other disciplines. In mathematics, we find that pre-algebra knowledge and skills lead to algebra then to geometry then to algebra II and then to trigonometry. Curricular guides in physical education must be developed to provide distinct scope and sequence from one grade to the next. Physical education curricula should be sequential to promote lifelong physical activity. These guides must remove the redundancy of twelve years of content and superfluous repetition of skill development for the mere sake of expertness.

This capricious attitude exemplified by physical education curriculums has led to a decrease in the physical education requirements in the public schools. Also, it has produced a generation of unmotivated, overweight, inactive, technological couch potatoes.

Facing the Facts

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (1993) revealed in it's "Shape of the Nation" article, that after Congress passed Resolution 97 encouraging states and local school boards to provide quality physical education programs, six years later there are only thirteen states that require a physical education specialist to teach elementary school physical education. Also, more than half of the states requires only one year of physical education or have no requirements in grades 9-12. Less than 36% of elementary and secondary schools even offer daily physical education (Southern et al., 1999).

Data contained within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1996), Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, revealed that fourteen percent of the young people surveyed reported they had not been involved recently in physical activity. As age or grade increases, participation in physical activity sharply diminishes. Almost half of Americans age 12-21 are not participating in regular vigorous activity. During adolescence, physical activity distinctly decreases. Less than 20 percent of high school students are physically active, five days a week, for 20 minutes or longer, in physical education classes. Between 1991 and 1995, enrollment of high school students in daily physical education classes have dropped from 42 percent to 25 percent. …