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What?! No running in PE? It’s true.
October 7, 2006 5:06 PM   Subscribe

No running in PE. I was talking to my kids about school the other day. We were discussing what they do in their different classes and the conversation came around to physical education (PE). I was shocked when they told me that their gym teacher forbids running in PE class. What?! No running in PE? It’s true.
posted by John of Michigan (92 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This is the sort of shit that really pisses me off.
posted by sperose at 5:25 PM on October 7, 2006


Posts like this one?
posted by Kwantsar at 5:28 PM on October 7, 2006


Yes, if our nations schools fail to mock one link blog posts that duplicate the text of the blog entry then children will grow up sloppy and unable to make proper posts. It's for their own good!
posted by Artw at 5:30 PM on October 7, 2006


Also it's a little unclear who the author of the blog is exactly, but it looks a lot like it might be a Dr Simon Evans of Michigan, who is promoting some dodgy book flogging nutritional suplements for kids.
posted by Artw at 5:34 PM on October 7, 2006


First off, nothing is more useless, degrading and utterly pointless in terms of health and fitness than PE classes as they have been undertaken since the Kennedy-era school fitness mandate in the early 1960s. With everything that has been learned about health and fitness over the past 30 years, school PE classes still usually consist of 15 minutes of getting dressed, 15 minutes of milling around, 15 minutes of a game or activity that involves spurts of movement, and 15 minutes of getting dressed again. This, of course, is a vast improvement over PE classes in MY day, where the whole point of the class seemed to be SHOWERING (plus milling around, brief pointless episodes of exercise, etc.).
No PE class ever gets down to the core of exercise, which is AEROBIC exercise, which consists of huffing and puffing for a mininimum of half an hour to forty minutes a day. That is the sum of what we mean by beneficial exercise. Running, playing games, "working off energy," playing dodgeball -- anything else has no or very little health benefit.
The point of PE should be to get kids in the habit of huffing and puffing for 30 to 40 minutes a day -- however they can: running, stationary bike, rowing machine. This is a health habit they can carry through the rest of their lives.
There is no need to mix this up with "games" or "sports" or anything "fun." Aerobic exercise for 30 to 40 minutes a day is its own reward: exhilerating, intoxicating, invigorating.
Here's how parents can get involved in their children's education: Go down to your child's school, and beat the crap out of their PE instructors.
posted by Faze at 5:38 PM on October 7, 2006


Christ. First the dropping of basic mushroom identification from the curriculum, and now this.
posted by luftmensch at 5:38 PM on October 7, 2006 [4 favorites]


Clearly, somebody should sue somebody over this outrage.

I was talking to my future children earlier today about how I could maximize their potential. They told me off because being saavy little spermies they knew the reason I wanted to maximize their potential was so that the gap with actual performance would be larger and I could mock them as underachievers.

Funny that a post on PE would be a weak single link.
posted by srboisvert at 5:40 PM on October 7, 2006


I don't know. The kids in my very PC school district are kick boxing each other.

As for dodge ball memories, it was fun when it was just kids our age throwing balls at each other. Then the demented gym aids who were four years older would get their rocks off by joining in and punishing a bunch of little kids. Pussies. I dare them to try that now that we are all growed up.
posted by caddis at 5:43 PM on October 7, 2006


Then the demented gym aids who were four years older would get their rocks off by joining in and punishing a bunch of little kids. Pussies. I dare them to try that now that we are all growed up.

Totally. In fact, we should start a team. Then we could go to Vegas to compete in the Dodgeball tournament. The $50k we raise might be useful in saving our beloved gym.

I bet Lance Armstrong and Chuck Norris will make appearances.

:)
posted by quin at 5:56 PM on October 7, 2006


This is well written and insightful! Lol!
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:58 PM on October 7, 2006


At least the comments on this BOTW blog are great:

golf school Says:

August 29th, 2006 at 8:25 pm
I added your site to my bookmarks. I’ve got this growing list I’ll actually be coming back to. Yeah, other than the ones we all ignore. For know though I have to go back to work. No rest for the weary!


How true!!
posted by AspectRatio at 6:03 PM on October 7, 2006


Faze: Aerobic exercise for 30 to 40 minutes a day is its own reward: exhilerating, intoxicating, invigorating.

While aerobic exercise is important for health, it is certainly none of those things for the vase majority of people.
posted by spaltavian at 6:04 PM on October 7, 2006


*vast, of course
posted by spaltavian at 6:04 PM on October 7, 2006


Rarely is the question asked: Is our children running?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:06 PM on October 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


No PE class ever gets down to the core of exercise

I was placed in Adapted PE in school. Our schedule: weight-training, running, weight-training, running, weight-training. No play, no sports, nothing fun at all.

The kicker is: everyone said how easy is was for me since I wasn't in regular PE. Go figure.
posted by SPrintF at 6:13 PM on October 7, 2006


I'm with most of what you said Faze, but as a former teacher myself, the "burning off extra energy" thing isn't a throw-away, even with high school kids. 10 minutes of shooting basketballs after lunch can do a world of good for afternoon brain functions IMO.

I'm torn, really. School shouldn't be the place for stuff like this, but then again, everyone needs a bit of exercise.

And I used to think "home ec" type classes were a fraud. But now I'm for them. A lot of kids (and adults) think food comes from McDonalds. End of story. It's good stuff to know for health, economic, and scientific reasons. Teach it, make it hard and worthwhile, and grade it.
posted by bardic at 6:13 PM on October 7, 2006


"I used to think "home ec" type classes were a fraud. But now I'm for them."

Heh. I had a roommate in university who could have seriously used one or two of those in high school. I realized that when he came to me because he wasn't sure how to cook Kraft Dinner - after reading the back of the box.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:40 PM on October 7, 2006


I lived on a hall my freshmen year with multiple guys who didn't know how to do their laundry. That blew my mind.
posted by bardic at 6:42 PM on October 7, 2006


Oh boy, a blog with the stock wordpress theme and a dozen or two posts. This truly is the best of the web, without a doubt.

Seriously, the underlying issue is interesting and surely there is a good post in there somewhere waiting to be set free, but this is not it.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:43 PM on October 7, 2006


Hmm, ok, I'll add to the pile: My family and I went to a parade today. It was a good parade, small town midwest style, about 2 hours long.

14 machring bands sort of parade.

On the way there, my wife casually mentions to me, "This year they can't throw the candy.".

I was calm for about 10 seconds (at least on the exterior).

I then screamed "What?"

Along with some other not family friendly words.

About a blocks worth of parade preparing people looked at me.

And it was true. They did not throw candy to the kids. They had people outside the floats walking along with buckets 'handing out' candy to the kids.

I cry for the future.
posted by killThisKid at 6:43 PM on October 7, 2006


No PE class ever gets down to the core of exercise, which is AEROBIC exercise, which consists of huffing and puffing for a mininimum of half an hour to forty minutes a day.

I think most Canadian schools have a fairly good gym program. There's a jump rope for heart thing, and a run laps for idunnowhat, and a very active after-school team sports program, and so on.

I know that in grade 8 and 9, my psychopath of a gym teacher got us all in good enough shape that everyone was capable of a 45m non-stop run. He was brutal.

Come to think of it, I don't remember more than a couple grossly obese kids in my grade. I suppose most of them musta kacked it during grade 8...
posted by five fresh fish at 6:51 PM on October 7, 2006


killThisKid: They can't throw coconuts, either.
posted by brundlefly at 7:00 PM on October 7, 2006


from the link: "I realize that I am harshly generalizing schools."

Yeah, and not even doing it well or providing anything close to evidence, aside from an anecdote that may or may not be true. Lame.
posted by dhammond at 7:03 PM on October 7, 2006


Totally. In fact, we should start a team. Then we could go to Vegas to compete in the Dodgeball tournament. The $50k we raise might be useful in saving our beloved gym.

I bet Lance Armstrong and Chuck Norris will make appearances.


Fucking Chuck Norris.

And yea, I got a B- in gym in HS because I couldnt run half a mile without stopping to walk because I was out of breath. In elementary school we stood around for a good 5-10 minutes while the teacher took attendance and did other housekeeping BS.
posted by SirOmega at 7:05 PM on October 7, 2006


i find it totally believable, as it goes along with everything else i see around me ... a nation, that above all else, feels it must do anything and everything to keep itself safe

it's not the mentality that homesteaded the west

it won't be the mentality that homesteads the solar system

and it's producing a generation of children who expect the world to be nice to them ... or become so starved for experience that they end up cutting themselves just to feel something

welcome to the decadent phase of our civilization
posted by pyramid termite at 7:10 PM on October 7, 2006


Not throwing candy at a parade? Horrors. The decline of Western civilization is no doubt nigh.

Phys ed being a feeble attempt to get kids moving? Oh, my goodness, that was NEVER true in my day because I disTINCTly remember doing more than that. Heck, I walked seven miles every day just to go to the bathroom.

Actually, I did walk to school. And actually, I do distinctly remember playing an endless and hyperactive game of softball/kickball/hide-and-seek/tag/Sardines with the neighbor kids and with my cousins after school, because the parenting style when I was a kid was to shove us out the door and go mix some more cocktails. Now we expect the schools to raise our kids, or the tutors, or the traveling team. They won't grow up if we don't DO something to them, after all.
posted by Peach at 7:20 PM on October 7, 2006


The point of PE should be to get kids in the habit of huffing and puffing for 30 to 40 minutes a day -- however they can: running, stationary bike, rowing machine. This is a health habit they can carry through the rest of their lives.
There is no need to mix this up with "games" or "sports" or anything "fun." Aerobic exercise for 30 to 40 minutes a day is its own reward: exhilerating, intoxicating, invigorating.


This is so true! While 40 minutes of lifting weights or walking around the track is fun and contemplative, group games are torture for the non-athletically inclined. No to dodgeball! Yes to stairmaster!
posted by juliarothbort at 7:20 PM on October 7, 2006


This completely goes against my plan to save schools money by reducing gym class to only running every single day. We would have a nation of track stars in our future, and no money would be wasted on balls.
posted by drezdn at 7:21 PM on October 7, 2006


I for one bow before our physically educated overlords.

and i wish to subscribe to their newsletter
posted by ZachsMind at 7:22 PM on October 7, 2006


This is why I've set the dial on my son's Skinner Box to 'Ninja Assassin/Gymkata/Abraham Lincoln'. How many times do I have to hit this buzzer before James arrives with the martinis? Oh, there he is. Ta!
posted by maryh at 7:26 PM on October 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


What's with all the spuriou's extra apo'strophe's in the linked article??'?'
posted by kcds at 7:47 PM on October 7, 2006


Basically a random thought of the day blog post is worth posting to MetaFilter? Bah.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:48 PM on October 7, 2006


useless, degrading and utterly pointless

Totally. I got more of a workout from walking to and from school. Hell, I got more of a workout from walking to and from class.

All I got out of actual PE class was taunts and humiliation by the instructors and the jock-boys. Well, that's not all I got. I got a thicker skin from it. And I grew a bitterness I would have not had otherwise....
posted by nevafeva at 7:55 PM on October 7, 2006


I wasn't here either.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:04 PM on October 7, 2006


luftmensch: great!
posted by dmo at 8:04 PM on October 7, 2006


I was never happier than the day my eye doctor wrote me a note saying that I could skip out of PE class for high school, given the chances of any simple eye injury blinding me for life. I walked to school, took an extra art class each semester, and rode my bike for hours after school, so I was way more physically fit and happier without PE.
posted by mathowie at 8:06 PM on October 7, 2006


Here's a plan: let's improve the situation and save some electricity by hooking the little buggers up to some big electo-generator mill-wheels in the basement.

Wel'll do our part for the environment, and end up with a bunch of little Conans, too!
posted by washburn at 8:08 PM on October 7, 2006


There needs to be a LAME flag for FPPs like this.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:08 PM on October 7, 2006


The point of PE should be to get kids in the habit of huffing and puffing for 30 to 40 minutes a day -- however they can: running, stationary bike, rowing machine. This is a health habit they can carry through the rest of their lives.

My God. This is so bad and wrong.

I empathize (oh, how I empathize) with those who went through the hell of forced team sports in gym class. I was clumsy, unathletic, unpopular, and completely lacking in hand-eye coordination, which made gym fun times, let me tell you. But the answer is not stairmaster. It is not to make healthy living equal to 30 to 40 minutes on a treadmill for the rest of your life, and all the other times take the elevator and watch TV and that crap.

Dodgeball, working off energy, that will make you healthy. It's the same fucking thing as the stairmaster, except you have fun and learn social interaction through it. Running around does get children huffing and puffing, they just don't notice it because they're enjoying themselves. Kids don't need to learn to use gym exercise equipment, they need to learn how to play again. They need to learn how to experiment on the jungle gym without a parent freaking out nearby. They need to learn to play tag with one another, climb trees, swim in a brook, run barefoot.

I have a friend in his early 20s who does no weight-training. No formal exercise. But this man is ripped because he is naturally active and has learned throughout childhood to enjoy using his body. He sees a tree and climbs it. Someone else can climb higher, so he challenges himself to do it. He rolls down really big hills and practices somersaults because they're cool and when he gets hurt it's OK, he can get back up again. We can't expect every adult to go around climbing trees, but we should make it OK for kids to do those things and explore and learn about doing things for themselves.

Man. Has our culture been so babied into the office-cubicle world that the only way we can conceive of exercising is through a fucking stairmaster? Do you think our caveman ancestors were overweight and had high cholesterol? They may have died earlier due to disease and poor nutrition, but while they were alive I'm sure they could take my coddled ass down.

I don't think PE with running will accomplish this. I do think our society re-orienting itself at how it looks at playtime and what really is bad or not for kids will.
posted by schroedinger at 8:10 PM on October 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


How abouut if the students have to run to aerobic levels while classic novels are read aloud. That way, they have no choice times two!
posted by longsleeves at 8:16 PM on October 7, 2006


How about, just a thought, maybe WALKING somewhere every once in a while?
posted by Artw at 8:24 PM on October 7, 2006


This is all hearsay, there is no link to a real source. The linked blog can't even cite this: USA Today just published an article explaining how a trend is developing across the country limiting kid’s physical activity...?

No linky, no credibility.
posted by taosbat at 8:28 PM on October 7, 2006


One of the huge problems with PE activities in school is that they're ballsport-centric. They focus entirely too much on extremely competitive ball play.

Not everyone wants to play football, basketball, baseball or even soccer.

This becomes a problem when we start viewing our High School and pre-HS gym/PE programs as mere recruiting and training grounds for aggressive team play sports - let the wheat fall from the chaff, and discard the chaff and all that.

My 10th grade year I made the mistake of running a 5:50 minute mile. When I was a huge 240 pound tubba. I'd never been much of a runner, but I sure biked/skated a lot, and I could sprint and run a bit, too.

It was a mistake to run that mile because it was entirely beyond my PE coachs limited, narrow imagination that a big, burly looking guy like me wasn't actually interested in playing football at all, much less officially.

It was entirely out of his scope that I might actually loathe the game and what it represented, and that I might actually prefer to do other things with my head, like read a book, rather than ramming it into someones ribs over and over again. I kept refusing his (increasingly creepy) advances to join the team. It actually became something like a daily harassment. I pondered if this is what girls felt like when they were leered at by creepy guys, or if this is what a steer felt up on the auction block. I still refused, and I got an undeserved F in his general ed PE class that year.

There are very, very few individualist/expressive physical activities supported by schools in PE. Why didn't non-competitive, co-operative games like Earthball take off?

And what ever happened to the hyper aggressive, hyper individualist (but points and competition-free) games like *cough, sorry* "Smear the Queer" go? That game was intense, even brutal, but all kinds of endless, mindless fun. You don't really know what exercise is until you've tried to walk-waddle down a field, carrying a pointless ball with 10-20 of your classmates climbing all over you.

Hell, why don't schools actually embrace and teach skateboarding? It's been insanely popular with kids for 30 frickin' years, it's good clean fun, it is surprisingly safe, it's extremely good and thorough exercise... but God forbid we let that individualist hippy shit anywhere near the schools!

This pervasive culture of aggressive competition is killing the fun of growing up and being a kid. Pop Warner Football too rough and too old for your 4 year old? Sign 'em up for Pee Wee Football! START TEACHING THEM THE VALUE OF WINNING RIGHT NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

God damn... no wonder kids just want to stay indoors and play video games or watch TV. It's the only time they can let their actions run free and unfettered along with their minds! It's the only time where they're not engage in sanctioned, safe, approved and goal oriented activities. It's probably the only refuge of chaos and self-control they have left - and if so, that's freakin' sad to think that kids are seeking a refuge of unsafety in entirely rule-based videogames.
posted by loquacious at 8:57 PM on October 7, 2006


Ya know what a PE class at one private school I know of last year did? Juggling, jumprope, and balloon-volleyball. The instructor wanted to give them all a sense of accomplishment. It is worth noting that she gained weight over the course of the school year.

The young fellow who told me about this is really buff for someone who has not even reached puberty yet, but it's because of karate, not PE.
posted by ilsa at 9:23 PM on October 7, 2006


I usually get a lot of good insight on issues by reading metafilter comments. Is the US vs. Canadian school PE system so much different or is the Saturday night demographic shading things?

My Canadian HS PE system involved teaching the basic rules of a bunch of sports (American vs Canadian football vs rugby vs Ausie rules to cricket vs. baseball &c&c). I still remember the core teaching; stretch, warm up, stretch some more and if you're playing with friends, to remember that it's all for fun.

Heck (in PE class), we were taught the fundamentals of judo - and were tasked with throwing one another around.

I wasn't and am not an athlete but I regard fondly my highschool PE education despite random humilation at the hands of my "peers."

I got back at them under the guise of rugby drills at team practices.
posted by porpoise at 9:28 PM on October 7, 2006


Balloon volleyball? They had sharks or rabid wombats or something else with pointy teeth running amok during the game, right?
posted by loquacious at 9:30 PM on October 7, 2006


When I was in middle school we had a weekly mile and a half run on a course that wound throughout the fields and blacktop behind my school. I suppose that would be considered a good thing - it's certainly more exercise than I've ever gotten since, - but try telling that to 12 year old me who's just vomited after being forced to run a mile and a half in 100 degree heat. I think that's it's important for kids to understand the value of exercise, and that they actually get exercise, but those weekly runs were the terror of my adolescence. I was almost relieved when we moved to a different state because I would only have to do one year of PE in highschool instead of two. On the other hand, I actually looked forward to PE during the rare times when we were doing interesting activities - capture the flag, yoga, jump rope, rock climbing. Forcing kids to run in PE isn't going to lead to lifelong physical fitness. Getting kids to enjoy physical exercise is much more likely to have an impact than (what many kids consider, my younger self included) torture like running.
posted by brittanyq at 9:32 PM on October 7, 2006


nevafeva writes "All I got out of actual PE class was taunts and humiliation by the instructors and the jock-boys."

I got laid by those jock boys. And then used the threat of withdrawing blowjobs and buttsexins to teach them some manners in public. ("Ok, 'Mike'? You keep calling me a faggot in the hall, and not only will I tell everyone exactly what you like, but you won't be getting it anymore. Capisce?")

Also, in HS phys. ed., we covered...hmm... archery, volleyball, badminton (get a bunch of 17 year olds playing badminton for bragging rights and it gets extremely athletic, let me tell you), fencing (foil, epee, and sabre, which is seriously fucking badass), dodgeball every couple of weeks for kicks, weight training, karate... I can't remember what else. We got to pick and choose which sections we wanted to be in--let those of us who weren't terribly team-sports-inclined to choose activities we would actually enjoy.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:47 PM on October 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


I would hazard a guess that the crappy way PE makes quite a few kids feel has more to do with them not being active adults than a lack of activity during PE.
posted by supercrayon at 9:57 PM on October 7, 2006


Competitive sports, involving teams and balls, are great for teaching social interaction ... unless you're on the short end of the stick. What physical activity did I get? Standing way, far away from the other team. What did I learn? To be picked last. That being small and scrawny meant that I was less valuable.

Gym can't be so freakin' complex that kids shouldn't have the option of solitary activities where their only competition is from their last performance: running, weight-lifting, swimming, etc.

The days of the one-size-fits-all, who-cares-about-the-runts, coach-says-we-gotta-win PE needs to die, and good riddance to it. Way too much testosterone-fueled, rage-based nonsense.
posted by adipocere at 9:59 PM on October 7, 2006


Has nothing to do with that, crayon, or at least not in all cases. In every class--PE, math, whatever--there are some stars. And North American culture has been putting more an dmore of an emphasis on self-worth=facility with sports. Moreover, it's extremely easy to see in gym class who does better than others. And in such a fiercely competitive arena as high school, that leads to some severe dissatisfaction amongst those of us who aren't athletically gifted.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:01 PM on October 7, 2006


It's interesting to hear from those who share the perspective of being the loner in gym class, relegated to lower status because they lacked some of the skills so readily apparent in other, more athletic students. I don't recall this too much when I was in high school, but then again, I was too busy GETTING PICKED FIRST. *high fives all around*
posted by dhammond at 10:25 PM on October 7, 2006


There should be considerable PE in high school, but I hated it at the time.

My problem with PE was that I thought was bad at sports and games, and consiquently I felt that sports and games were bad. This correlation was wrong and came out of poor teaching. Many PE teachers grew up playing the sports they were teaching and consiquently they felt that explaining how to play was unessecary (or not even possible).

If the students who are not doing well are taught that they can do well by practicing, and then they are given the oppotunity to practice with people at their skill level, then they could easily catch up and then, I imagine, most of the hatred of the subject would vanish.

It would be very easy to create the situation where everyone could enjoy PE as it plays to people's natural instincts.
posted by niccolo at 10:44 PM on October 7, 2006


Forced to run? LOL! The word 'forced' doesn't enter my vocabulary of gym class experience. I started out doing the best I could, in 7th grade. I hated the usual team sports. Soccer I actually enjoyed, simply because it was (late 60's) new to everyone, and I didn't have to throw.

But I learned when to say 'no'. I learned that flat out refusal to participate rendered those so-called "authorities" quite powerless. I learned to completely loath the jock culture. I did not understant why guys who had been my friends for years suddenly became new creatures as they joined the jocks.

My favorite physical activity had always been swimming. But even as a kid I learned I didn't like these older boys at the pool. I quit my efforts at speed swimming very early, just to avoid those jocks (which I didn't identify as a group or class at the time). Terrible shame, as I actually pushed myself at swimming. Other than biking-as-transportation, I never did again.

Dirtynumbangelboy: This is not the first time you've told a tale to inspire my jealousy :-P
posted by Goofyy at 11:23 PM on October 7, 2006


Goofyy writes "Dirtynumbangelboy: This is not the first time you've told a tale to inspire my jealousy :-P"

Want to hear funny? I was actually fucking (as in, bending him over and making him my bitch) the tight end on the fooball team for a while.

Either wya, I definitely enjoyed some parts of gym lass. (And not just the parts that involved perving on my classmates in various states of undress). I wasn't hugely athletic, but I was agile, which lent itself to certain sports/activities and not to others. I was actually number 2 in my gym class for fencing--beaten only because my final opponent was a southpaw, and they have a natural advantage against righties in fencing (unless the righties have been very thorough about their trianing).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:36 PM on October 7, 2006


wya=way, lass=class. No I'm not drunk, why do you ask?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:37 PM on October 7, 2006


But, PE is an important time in the development of the bullying craft. If we don't let them hone their humiliation and pain inflicting skills and systems in the gym, they'll just bring it to the classrooms. Let's be practical.
posted by squirrel at 11:43 PM on October 7, 2006


Bullies are fun in bed. Especially if you have, e.g., a riding crop, a ball gag, and a pair of police-issue handcuffs. They usually have guilt issues they feel they need to be punished for anyway, so everyone wins.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:54 PM on October 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Just a small thought - I believe it was the Eisenhower administration that mandated more vigorous PE. There were no PCs and Apples were for the teacher, but there were flabby kids. Having gone to West Point where all kinds of tax-supported sports are available and competition is the name of the game, General Ike pushed physical activity.
posted by Cranberry at 11:54 PM on October 7, 2006


People should not be surprised to see Spartan-type youth regimentation fall by the wayside in an era of public decline.
posted by Brian B. at 12:35 AM on October 8, 2006


Better off having kids dress in casual (loose, stretchy, exercise) clothes all day for school, including running shoes, and integrate exercise into the day. Have maybe five or ten minutes of stretching, push-ups, etc., before each class, led by the regular teachers (who could also use the exercise). Then, if there's time, have optional group sports at the end of the day.
posted by pracowity at 2:54 AM on October 8, 2006


By the way, after reading some of the stuff above, I was wondering: a million years ago, when I was in school, we always had group nakedness in showers and changing rooms and thought nothing of it because we weren't seeing anything we hadn't seen before and no one was interested in seeing anyone else of the same sex. Teh Gay, in short, had not yet been invented. Who'da thunk that at least a couple of the kids in every classroom were looking forward to the showers as much as if the hetero kids got to sneak into the other sex's locker room.

Now that gay is officially OK and most kids and parents are aware that some of the kids must be gay, even if they don't know who, is there any pressure to stop school kids having group showers and communal changing rooms? If parents are worried about running in gym, aren't they also worried about fucking in gym? Do parents still insist on having separate showers and changing rooms for boys and girls?
posted by pracowity at 2:58 AM on October 8, 2006


I dunno about in schools, but here at Uni there's a real issue with women showering. Postgrads and staff seem to shower after exercise, undergrads mainly just spray themselves with chemicals. Apparently this is not the case in the women's changing rooms, but as an asthmatic, during term time, it's quite an ordeal wading through the fog of "deodorising" chemicals to get to the shower.
posted by handee at 3:19 AM on October 8, 2006


I never saw the gym showers at my HS being used for general education PE classes, except for moments of water-based cruelty. Oh, and that guy that liked blowing stuff up. You ever see the skin of an apple break the sound barrier?

Also, I once spent an entire school year not washing my hideous school issued shorts/shirt. Man, you could saw logs with that stuff when I was done with it, or use the shirt as a handy writing desk. Yeah, I was pretty damn popular with the ladies back then.
posted by loquacious at 3:34 AM on October 8, 2006


You have got to be joking, pracowity. Or are you trolling?

People with brains assume that anyone who is showering with other people is going to make a token effort to keep their mind on the business at hand. That said, it's a pretty safe bet that it's fair to separate people by outward physiological gender, as the overwhelming majority of people are going to be attracted to the opposite physiological gender. It would be ridiculous to try and separate people by who they are attracted to (think about it; there are a certain number of straight men who would claim to be into women just to shower with girls without suspicion). Equally ridiculous would be to separate people by gender and preference--four sets of changing rooms?

Frankly, those of us who happen to like the people we're changing clothes with will steal quick peeks here and there, and mostly stare at our feet and try not to make it obvious. Same as the heteros do every day when they're tyring not to make it obvious that they're staring at some girl's tits on the beach.

Seriously, take your stupid fucking trolling elsewhere.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:05 AM on October 8, 2006


If the boys and girls would shower together, things would get lots more relaxed in school. But that's just too rational and realistic a view for the American People, as a group, to handle.

I snuck my share of peeks in school, but they weren't very interesting. Mind, I never had PE after the first half of 9th grade. By then, I had been dating adult gay men for a year or so. The little flacid boys in PE were boring (except for one or two). I would have lusted major for the PE teacher in 9th grade, had he been less an asshole.
posted by Goofyy at 4:39 AM on October 8, 2006


66 comments and no one mentions the two staples of 4th grade PE... square dancing and 4-square. Other than trying to make a 4th grade boy actually touch a girl (cooties). what is PE about square dancing?
posted by Gungho at 4:46 AM on October 8, 2006


Goofyy writes "I snuck my share of peeks in school, but they weren't very interesting."

Honey, we went to very different high schools. And/or, we have evry different tastes.



Gungho writes "square dancing and 4-square."

This is a solely USA phenomenon.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:47 AM on October 8, 2006


Won't you please think of the PE teachers.
posted by notreally at 5:30 AM on October 8, 2006


If math teachers promoted their field the way NASPE does our schools might produce....Meh
Why beat a dead horse.
posted by notreally at 5:38 AM on October 8, 2006


I enjoyed PE so much I took it as an elective my senior year. We ran laps, played sports and lifted weights; it was great. One of the main benefits however, was that I got to befriend some normal kids. All of my other classes where AP or honors level and all were filled with exactly the same geniuses and over-achievers. Period after period we would get up from one class and walk in a pack to our next class. But not to PE, none of them went with me to PE.

That was awesome. As a bonus, none of the jocks ever picked on me in school, nor was I ever picked last (usually I was a middle of the pack athlete).
posted by oddman at 5:38 AM on October 8, 2006


No linky, no credibility.

Yeah, if this is an actual problem, you should be able to find an actual news story to link to. A random blog entry is just an excuse for everyone to yammer about PE, which is not supposed to be the point of a MeFi post. Since Matt commented here, I guess he has no problem with it, but personally, I'd send you to the woodshed to try harder next time. As EB said: Bah.
posted by languagehat at 6:36 AM on October 8, 2006


I don't know DNaB, we had square dancing in high school in Alberta. In retrospect, it was pretty educational. More of it would have been a good thing for those of us picked last blah blah blah.

Once, four or five of us were in the large shower room at the end of the day, and we spent about an hour sliding around on the soapy tiled floor, and slinging each other across the room. That was just about the most fun I ever had in gym class, although the next day I was missing almost the entire outside layer of skin.
posted by sneebler at 7:00 AM on October 8, 2006


While 40 minutes of lifting weights or walking around the track is fun and contemplative, group games are torture for the non-athletically inclined. No to dodgeball! Yes to stairmaster!

I'm so with you. If my schools had given me even an inkling that physical fitness could be something other then games that I hated where people threw balls at me, I would have had a far different attitude toward exercise.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:57 AM on October 8, 2006


Is the US vs. Canadian school PE system so much different or is the Saturday night demographic shading things?
posted by porpoise at 12:28 AM EST on October 8


I don't know, but I'll add a data point: I grew up in Nova Scotia, and we had exams in PhysEd. So we weren't just scored on participation, but also on understanding the rules of the games we were playing. I did lousy on the tests despite generally being an excellent student - I didn't care, and I knew my parents didn't care how I did as long as I was healthy and doing well in the important subjects. I actually failed grade eight gym, but since I had a 90+% average, they couldn't hold me back even though the rules were that if you failed one class, you failed the grade. (In retrospect, I feel bad for my PhysEd teacher for that, but, you know, I still think I was right to study for my English exam instead, which was on the same day.)

I remember changing took a fair amount of time, but when we were actually in class there was a fair amount of activity, though I probably got more exercise walking to class (about a twenty minute walk). We learned volleyball, football, floor hockey, badminton and archery, and competed for the Canada Fitness Award (which appears not to exist anymore). In the same year that I failed gym, I got an award of excellence from the Award program. I was terrible at organized sports and anything involving catching a ball, but I could run, and iirc the Award program was focused mainly on running/sprinting type activities.

In high school, gym was not required, so I didn't take it.

Interestingly, my American husband's university required students to take PE courses. That still floors me.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:53 AM on October 8, 2006


I didn't like PE in school because I was no good at it and a lot of it was wrapped around doing things that were clearly someone else's idea of fun. The thing is lots of kids liked PE and didn't like math. And they had to do math even if they didn't like it. And they got bad grades if they were bad at math. People get good grades in PE for just putting in the time. This strikes me as kind of silly. Trig and geometric proofs are both far less useful for the vast majority of people than the vague sort of skills you pick up doing team sports.
posted by I Foody at 8:56 AM on October 8, 2006


If you're not naturally good at sports, gym class is organized, school-condoned torture. At least it was in the 70s.
posted by JanetLand at 9:05 AM on October 8, 2006


/me reads article.

/me notes that 'This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 27th, 2006 at 10:40'

I'm glad it was felt necessary to draw Metafilter's attention to a single opinion piece/blog entry from almost four months ago. Must be a slow newsday or something.
posted by kaemaril at 9:50 AM on October 8, 2006


If you're not naturally good at sports, gym class is organized, school-condoned torture. At least it was in the 70s.

I agree. Part of the problem is some instances of the new model for PE that doesn't work is because it is (in most cases) addressing this issue simply by creating the opposite case. High self-esteem oriented play time.

Niether will achieve a healthy physical culture in kids.

Competition is good. But picking the low hanging "natural talent" is just easier for the coaches. Not good for the kids NOR for competition.

Some of the best athletes in the world were NOT naturals... but had to work thier asses off to get there. Good coaches know that.
posted by tkchrist at 10:18 AM on October 8, 2006


I think the problem with most gym classes is that they equate physical fitness with competition, skill, and "teamwork." While it would be great if all kids had strong competitive instincts, top-notch coordination, and were great "team players," I would be willing to settle for them not being total fatasses.

So, screw ball sports. Give kids the option of a program that is strong on cardio and possibly weight training. I know if I had that option, I would probably have gotten above a D in gym class at least once.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:39 AM on October 8, 2006


PE can kill
posted by hockeyman at 11:19 AM on October 8, 2006


There was a lot of variety in the gym classes I took in Northern BC. Running, swimming, various ball sports, various racquet sports, weight room, skiing, skating, tennis, gymnastics, etc.

Best gym memory: grade six or seven, elementary school. Ex-pat British gym teacher/principal. Plan: scatter tumbler mats around the gym, and hoola hoops. Release the climbing ropes, set up benches, vaulting horses, trampoline, springboard, etc. Assign a couple kids to be "It." Theme: sharks in the "water" and "pirates" are after you.

It was utter mad screaming mayhem. And a miracle no one ended up hurt, much less dead. Sprint across the gym, leap onto the springboard, clear the horse onto the trampoline, leap from the trampoline to a climbing rope, scoot up the rope (pirate in mad pursuit), grapple across to another rope, slide, down, swing out, land on crash pad... unreal.

The was, obviously, in the 70s, before all the fun toys were taken away. I don't think trampolines exist in the school system at all, and I'd be surprised if they have springboards and horses. Climbing ropes are probably goners, too.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:39 AM on October 8, 2006


This brings to mind what I once heard an English judge say:
"Every country thinks their legal system is the best in the world. We British certainly used to think so. Then we saw what our American cousins made with it..."
posted by Skeptic at 11:55 AM on October 8, 2006


PE? What's that? My daughter's a third-grader in a Boston public school, one of those classic 1930s small schools that doesn't have a gym. They get 15 minutes of recess each day; the teachers try to get the kids outside to run around in all but the absolute harshest of weather (so if it's drizzling, they go out; if it's absolutely pouring, then they'll stay inside at their desks).
posted by adamg at 6:15 PM on October 8, 2006


The was, obviously, in the 70s, before all the fun toys were taken away.

Nah, you can still hurt yourself in gym class if you set your mind to it. My son almost lost a tooth playing on a giant skateboard at his public preschool. Blood everywhere, tears everywhere, the teacher probably still feels terrible about it... good times, good times.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:05 PM on October 8, 2006


dirtynumbangelboy says: I got laid by those jock boys. And then used the threat of withdrawing blowjobs and buttsexins to teach them some manners in public. ("Ok, 'Mike'? You keep calling me a faggot in the hall, and not only will I tell everyone exactly what you like, but you won't be getting it anymore. Capisce?")

SWEET!!! So, that's why they wouldn't look at me!
posted by nevafeva at 8:49 PM on October 8, 2006


JanetLand writes "If you're not naturally good at sports, gym class is organized, school-condoned torture. At least it was in the 70s."

Preach it Sister! It hadn't changed in the least in the 80s. My happiest memory of junior high was my very last PE class. A day made all the more sweet because D.S.Name initialled to protect the guilty had to run hills[1] for saying "Yes, No more fucking PE" within earshot of our bitch of a PE instructor as we were walking off the field. In senior high I replaced it with the much, much, more useful AP Calculus.

I also still remember getting lectured repeatedly on equipment care after making the horrible, life altering mistake of letting my, apparently sacred, football helmet wait for it touch the ground! OMFG!. You'd think I'd locked an infant in a car with all the windows closed on a hot summer day.

I'll admit I like some aspects. Dance and orienteering was fun, wrestling was tolerable as was flag football. Everything else laid somewhere between unpleasant and horrific. The football jock who was aghast at my helmet etiquette was also in charge of sex ed. It's amazing I ever got laid. Bizarrely we never had ball hockey in PE which was something I actually enjoyed. I guess they figured everyone able to walk upright was already getting enough exposure to that sport.

[1] Our field was bordered on three sides by a 1-2 story berm. PE instructors would punish the unwilling by having them run up and down the ~45 degree slope.
posted by Mitheral at 10:45 PM on October 8, 2006


My school system had PE until senior year. I was a member of the not-very-fit club, and therefore fit for terrorizing by the various and sundry.

One of the teachers, an ex-football-player from the school, decided he hated me. And he'd always give me the shittiest things to do - speed sprints, things like that, to 'work off some of that'.

One day, before gym class, I deliberately ate about a dozen Oreos. He'd mentioned the day before 'make you run until you puke'. So I figured it would be hellish, and it was. Dear God, it was. And he did make me run until I puked.

Except that I'd developed, over the years, a rigid sense of internal discipline that has served me well. I was able to resist the yarking until he was standing in front of me as I was gasping for air. And then I let him have it on the shirt.

Good times, good times.
posted by mephron at 6:38 AM on October 9, 2006


killthiskid: they haven't thrown candy for at least a decade in my hometown and home away from home towns.

for us it was a safety issue: they didn't want kids darting under the horses or firetrucks or whatever for the candy.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:37 AM on October 9, 2006


Running, playing games, "working off energy," playing dodgeball -- anything else has no or very little health benefit.
The point of PE should be to get kids in the habit of huffing and puffing for 30 to 40 minutes a day -- however they can: running, stationary bike, rowing machine. This is a health habit they can carry through the rest of their lives.


Wrong, wrong, wrong. Schroedinger said it well already, but he's right.

Physical education should be about teaching kids how to use their bodies: that means throwing, catching, running, stretching, dancing, wrestling etc. Physical fitness comes along with it.

And yes, horrible post leads to vague, uninteresting discussion. I just couldn't help myself. PE is great stuff, *if* done right. I got to play some of the coolest games in PE. One was a crazy Japanese team game that was a blast ... until somebody dislocated his shoulder. Bummer. Still a great game...

I may as well describe it. Imagine a yin/yang with spermlike tunnels at 2 and 8 o'clock. Each team starts in one half. Each player is eliminated by pulling another player into their area or knocking them down outside the circle. When you leave your area via the spermlike tunnel exit, you must hop on one foot (which is where the knocking down happens). However, if you can hop all the way around to the other spermlike tunnel, you can use both feet in enemy territory and start wreaking all kinds of havoc. That's when that guy's shoulder got dislocated. And we never played again.

Anybody know the game?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:37 PM on October 9, 2006


by the way, try hopping around in circles for 30 minutes while another hopper is trying to knock you over. that'll shape you up right quick.

then again, once you're out you sit around picking daisies, so maybe you PE haters have a point ... thank heavens for good coordination and good genes.

actually, the kids who were knocked out got to play pickup soccer. that's a universal skill everyone should learn anyway. more practice the better.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:42 PM on October 9, 2006


mephron, you're my hero.
posted by JanetLand at 8:20 AM on October 10, 2006


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