In View of the Increased Attention on Lifespan Education, Should Physical Education, Kinesiology, or Exercise Science Majors Be Required to Take a Course on the Aging Process and Its Effect on Motor Performance?

Article excerpt

I think the critical question here is: Should physical education teachers be required to take such a class? We all know that individuals can get teacher certification with or without majoring in physical education, kinesiology, or exercise science. Personally, I believe that you have to look at the people that these individuals are going to be instructing or working with. If a student is going to be a teacher in the schools, then I do not think a class in this specific area is necessary. The background knowledge they need is the fact that exercise, physical activity, and physical fitness help decrease the aging process and help to prevent many of the diseases that develop during the aging process. As someone who has gone through NCATE evaluations and developed curriculum in higher education, I know that it is sometimes extremely difficult for students to be able to take all of the classes that they need to properly instruct physical education programs. With so many state, national, and college requirements, it is often unfeasible to add what I would consider "luxury courses." I believe this information can be covered in sufficient detail for teachers in courses such as motor development, exercise physiology, kinesiology, and human growth and development courses that are already required in most programs. If we are going to require "extra" courses, in addition to the traditional core "pedagogy" curriculum, they should be in the areas of sport law, computers and technology in teaching physical education, and methods of strength and conditioning. These are areas that teachers directly encounter every day and may not be adequately covered in other classes.

It is different for individuals who actually instruct or work with older individuals in the design, maintenance, and instruction of their personalized exercise programs. First and foremost, there is enough flexibility in the program to add many different and creative courses. These curriculums do not have all the state and/or national mandates for teacher preparation. This in itself could free up five to six classes, in which creative courses could be developed, added, and required. These individuals probably need such a course, because designing programs for, and training, older people is much different than doing so for younger people.

It is impossible to offer one class for every area that the physical education teacher may encounter and still get them out in four years. We have to recognize the critical areas of training for students and focus on them during the undergraduate process. Hopefully, undergraduate students will become active in the learning process and take advanced study in other areas.

- Timothy L. Hatten, professor, Division of Life Science/Physical Education, Rock Valley College, Rockford, IL 61114. …