Interestingly, I have only been moved to write a letter to the editor one other time in my life. Not surprisingly, it was in regards to a school issue at that time too. Parents who believed that what goes on in school was entirely different than what actually goes on in school.
This morning I was again moved to respond to a letter – actually TWO letters – that strongly objected to the idea of more Phys Ed classes in schools. I was especially shocked because based on some of their comments, the two authors both seemed to be teachers.
So this evening, instead of surfing Twitter, I penned (keyboarded?) a letter to the editor of the Edmonton Journal expressing my disagreement to the two letters. I have no idea if I will be published or not but I feel better having pressed the “send” button. I actually could have written a much longer letter, but the Journal asks for a 250 word limit which I have exceeded by about 150 words! Let me know what you think:
Re: It’s Not Up to Schools – July 22, 2011
This morning I read with shock and disappointment the two letters speaking against adding Phys Ed classes to the school day.
One of the main arguments against such an idea was that there was not enough time in the day to include this and that regular core classes such as Math or Language Arts would suffer if we took time away from them. I strongly disagree with this logic. There is evidence that a more active lifestyle helps young people become better learners. They are healthier, more alert and able to stay focused for longer time periods. The quality of the time they spent in the classroom learning would be much better. In Alberta, Phys Ed is considered a “core” subject. In these times, when childhood obesity is such an epidemic, isn’t it imperative that P.E. classes receive the same emphasis as the rest of our Core classes?
The second point that I have a major objection to is the idea that they only place that Phys Ed can be taught is in a gym. In fact, if we are going to teach students to be fit and active for life, we need to be using a number of alternate environments to engage students. Take the kids outside! I know teachers who have taught P.E. without access to a gym at all. Even a classroom or a hallway can easily be transformed into a space for physical activity.
Both writers stated that health and fitness should be the responsibility of the child and the parents. Of course, this is true to an extent. Realistically though, look around! Many students come to school without having eaten breakfast or without an adequate lunch. Do schools and teachers ignore that as “the parent’s job?” NO, they organized snack programs, bag lunches and buy food out of their own budgets to ensure that students have enough fuel to learn efficiently. If schools ignore the fact that a large number of students are not getting enough physical activity we are sending a message that it is not important. If schools say, “It’s the parent’s job so we’re not doing it,” they are being negligent.
The most vibrant school I have ever been a part of included 50 minutes of P. E. every day for all grade 7, 8, and 9 students. It was scheduled in the timetable and included access to only one gym and one “multipurpose” room. So don’t tell me that it can’t be done, because it most certainly can.