Does Coeducational Physical Education Help High School Students Reach Their Full Potential?
If maximum skill development is your idea of full potential, no, coeducational physical education probably does not meet this goal. Full potential encompasses more than skill development. Social development is also a component.
Coeducational physical education provides the social context adolescents desire for leisure time activity. The students I work with generally enjoy the social contact of coeducational activities. I observe the smiles on many faces as students communicate with one another in these settings. Students who experience success and fun are more apt to remain physically active. Sometimes opportunities for learning to get along with someone who is difficult present themselves, too.
Men and women are working together more and more in the business world. Learning to get along with and to value and respect the opposite sex is a skill needed for our future employees.
There are also times when activities are best separated by sex - for instance, some gymnastics events and some aspects of contact sports.
If maximum skill development is your idea of full potential, join inter-scholastic sports or take private lessons. Coeducational physical education will help develop a more well-rounded individual.
- Su McCarthy, West Geauga High School, Chesterland, OH 44026
In the first two years of my career I taught physical education at a private Outward Bound school for boys - boys only! - in a remote region of the Scottish Highlands. The school prided itself on a spartan regime and its masculine homogeneity. While the credo of the school was all about building "good character," the recollection I have is of 200 boys and young men who were deprived of female presence and contact, and who displayed a disturbing inability to relate to the real world. Many years later two of these students, now adults, wrote to me and said the high point of that period was a rugby trip I organized. We visited a Scottish coeducational school, played rugby, and attended a dance. These athletes laughed, chatted, had fun, and busily worked at learning one of life's most critical skills - socializing with member of the opposite sex.
Coeducation is central to healthy living and may be the single most important psychosocial aspect of contemporary physical education. George Plimpton, ever the able raconteur, tells of a conversation with former President George Bush in The X Factor. Bush, in describing various of his sporting scars, pointed to a bump on a shoulder blade: "Got that one playing mixed doubles with Barbara at Kennebunkport. Ran into the porch." Coeducation is all about good humor, human-ness, civilization, decency, and self-actualization.
- Scott A. G. M. Crawford, professor, College of Education and Professional Studies, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920
One of the unique elements of physical education is that it has an impact on the "whole" student. If we are concerned about the full potential of students, this should include the social development as well as the other areas of growth (physical, intellectual, and emotional). It seems to me that a coeducational environment is best suited for full development.
However, coeducational physical education should not even be an issue. Physical education classes should be made available to all students. Students need to see other students set, work towards, and attain goals in physical education and fitness. It is important for students to be able to learn from one another - to help others who may have lower ability levels and to learn from those who are more able. It is important for students to interact together.
To ensure that high school students have the opportunity to reach their full potential, more pressing issues are: (1)the teaching effectiveness occurring in the class, (2) whether adequate motivational techniques are being utilized, and (3) whether the equipment and environment are safe and well-maintained - in short, whether students are getting the most of their learning experience.
Coeducational physical education should be a given. Let's get past it, so that we can focus our energies on those items that will create positive impact for students to reach their full potential.
- Dennis M. Docheff, associate professor, Department of Physical Education, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY 10996
When I was in high school, I took physical education with girls. When I was in college, my physical education major courses were with girls. When I began teaching, my physical education students were girls. Then in June of 1972, the education act became law and coeducational classes emerged.
Coeducational physical education is not allowing high school students to reach their full potential. When high school students convene for physical education, the skill level of both the girls and the boys declines. There is fear of injury for the girls when participating with boys. The competitive character of the boys subdues the girls. The girls will avoid play while the boys control the activity. Boys want to show their skill ability and girls want to watch them perform. Adapting and changing games to involve all the skill levels is an on-going daily lesson struggle.
Coeducational physical education is a no-win situation in our high schools today.
- Linda Myrick, El Paso, TX 79912
Coeducational physical education can and should help high school students reach their full potential if developmentally appropriate practices, effective pedagogical techniques, and commitment to teamwork constitute the foundation of the coeducational program. With regard to developmentally appropriate practices, teachers should implement a variety of teaching strategies to help students improve at their own rate. Station activities, task cards, individual goal setting, and peer teaching opportunities are a few good examples. Sound pedagogical practices - such as efficient time management, clear and concise task presentations, positive and specific congruent feedback statements, accurate modeling techniques, and checks for student understanding - are essential for maximum student learning. Staff teamwork is also vital for successful programs. The physical education staff must collaborate to offer the best program possible. Offering students choices, maintaining good variety in the content, making program change decisions where appropriate to stay contemporary with societal changes and needs, and challenging students to take control of their own learning are a few of the team decisions that a quality physical education staff must constantly address. It's without a doubt extremely hard work, but it's well worth the effort.
- Kevin Hussey, assistant professor, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920
In both my personal and my practicum experience, I have found that coeducational physical education, especially at the secondary level, does not allow students to reach their full potential. The issue is not whether one sex is more physical and athletic than the other; the conflict is much deeper.
Girls have the capacity and desire to work just as hard and to accomplish the same goals as boys, but this can and should be done separately.
Girls feel more comfortable, feel less pressure, and reap more benefits from single-sex physical education. Girls are not a weaker sex, just a different sex. We must take this into consideration, especially in physical education. Contrary to popular belief, girls don't hate to sweat. Many other issues come into play, including sexual harassment, body image, self-esteem, major physical changes, and a more severe degree of gender bias when dealing with coeducational physical education. Girls are given more opportunities to "sit out" or "play a different type of game" in coeducational classes. What type of message is this sending our young female students?
In a time when so many pressures are placed on girls and women to look and feel their best, and when gaining confidence in oneself is of utmost importance, is coeducational physical education a place where girls can do this? This is the place where comments by male students toward female students, such as "Hey, fat pig," "Oh great, three girls on our team," and "Why do we have to play with the girls? They stink," are commonplace.
Therefore I must ask, is coeducational physical education really maximizing the full potential of both sexes? In my opinion, the answer is no.
- Ashley McCrary, undergraduate student, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA 22801…
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Publication information: Article title: Does Coeducational Physical Education Help High School Students Reach Their Full Potential?. Contributors: Not available. Journal title: JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. Volume: 67. Issue: 8 Publication date: October 1996. Page number: 6+. © 2009 American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). COPYRIGHT 1996 Gale Group.
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