I didn't learn about calories, or healthy eating. I didn't learn about basic cardio, why it's good for you, or how often to do it. I didn't learn about how to build muscle, what reps or sets were.
Gym amounts to mindless busywork. Do stuff or you get an F. It could serve as a foundation of knowledge to set yourself up for healthy habits for the rest of your life. Instead, it has the opposite effect of training you to hate fitness.
"School" is a product that must be sold to the parents, the people "signing the checks" with their local tax money. It's kinda like enterprise software. The users are not the people making purchasing decisions, so you're always going to end up with a bad incentive structure for the quality of life of end-users (students) if the decision-makers aren't fully aligned with the users. How many fat parents are going to be on board with the school teaching their fat child a healthier lifestyle?
Right now, it appears that parents want a product that gives them the _feeling_ of caring about their child's long-term health habits, without them personally needing to make any changes to their lifestyle or parenting style.
What really bothers me is that I actually enjoy weight lifting and a number of solo cardio exercises (rowing machine, exercise bikes, swimming laps). I knew this when I was young too. But with only a few-weeks-a-year exception, these were not a regular part of "gym". I feel like these kind of activities are far better to learn, as the can provide a life-long basis for regular exercise, and should be an all-the-time option. Combine that with the other health focused skills you mention, and you're going to have much better life-long outcomes then you will get by yelling at the fat kid who can't do a hand-stand.
There is a huge difference between "because you have to" and "because I want to".
How is that different from being graded in other subjects in school? You don't get an A in calculus because you tried to answer the question, you get a grade based on how good you answer the question.
I'm fine with coaches grading on performance. It's a proxy for effort + talent like a lot of things, and as non-geniuses know effort extends outside the classroom proportional to your talent. If you can't even get a 20 minute mile, you're going to have to put in more effort outside the classroom, which might involve refusing to eat 100% of mom's delicious huge dinner or doing "exercise studies" (i.e. working out outside of class).
Whether gym class should be required is another discussion. I don't think it should be (and that easily filters out most people complaining about being graded for performance anyway) and it's a pretty poor attempt at managing rising obesity rates.
Growth spurts wreak havoc on coordination ability, and it's entirely beyond the person's control.
(We're not even talking about the fact that you don't get a grade based on how well you answer the question in calculus, either. You get graded on understanding, and steps involved, even if you get the wrong answer. Or at least you get graded that way in sane school systems)
What if your testosterone wants you to run, jump and play with your friends instead of sitting and reading calculus books?
I don't know why you'd grade kids at all on anything but their participation. Punishing a kid for being weak or poorly coordinated serves only to make them resent getting exercise.
Back to the time constraint. Some teachers would FAIL students who were consistently unable to complete a mile in under 10 minutes. Effort was irrelevant. I wasn't a heavy kid, but routinely crossed the finish line bright red, gasping for breath, and light headed.
So yes, putting your student's future academic and career prospects in danger due to lower than "average" athletic ability is utter madness.
The equivalent would be grading the running technique, pacing etc.
Grading in Japan was fairly black and white; whether you can do certain thing or not. It sucked even worse being thrown into some team sports with no briefing on rules.
At PE classes in US, where I spent most of middle and all the high school, I think the problem was more of how compatible I was with the teacher. Some graded very strictly on the outcome (which sucked), but some other graded on efforts (which was more reasonable) -- some had good balance while others were worse.
Problem of physical fitness is that there are quite a bit of genetic that plays huge role. You can only improve your athletic ability so much to meet some standard. Thus, unless you are training for the Olympics, it really should be graded based on how much you improve over time rather than whether you can reach certain goal that may be unrealistic to some.
Agreed. After my first year of regular P.E. I signed up for a class focused entirely on strength and fitness. No team sports. Two days on the track, three days in the weight room. Physically it was a far more demanding class, but it was taught by a far more reasonable teacher. Despite being among the slowest when it came to running the mile, I still received an A for showing effort and improvement.
This is really just grading on how much courage you have to sandbag in the first lesson.
We also had a theoretical “health” course where you learn about healthy eating, calories, etc.
But in all honesty there is a disconnect between the theoretical and practical, no continuity whatsoever between the curriculums. Not like my teenage self would have listened anyway...
I fucking hated the mile and half run though....
Anyway I rather liked gym class before 9th grade, mindless as it was, after that I took one of your hybrid health education + mild exercise courses (mile run every month? could walk the whole thing if you wanted) in 10th grade that did nothing for either (lol food pyramid -- a subject also repeated during a cooking class and a general health sciences class) and fulfilled my final PE requirement with an online bowling class during my final term that required (with no verification) about 10 games and scores to be submitted with the testing which I did in one or two sessions.
But then it occurred to me that is how most kids felt with maths. Ie. Mindless busywork to set you up for a lifetime hating it.
"I don't wanna play volleyball, can I get some guys and we'll play floor hockey instead?"
Well, fuck gym I guess.
We played football, not to an insane degree, but I always found it weird that they assumed everyone knew the rules.
Personally I don't think gym and music should exist at part of the school day, at least not in larger cities. Instead it should be required that everyone takes lessons in at least one instrument, and practice at least one organised sport after school. Then children are free to pick something they care about. Any fees should be paid by the city or government.
Also, certain sports cost more than others, so certain families getting more money because their child picked a more expensive sport doesn't seem fair.
"I don't wanna learn trig, can I get some guys and we'll do algebra instead?"
2 weeks of badminton. 2 weeks of hockey. 10 weeks of boring shit I have no interest in and don't participate except to avoid an F.
This normally devolved into some quantity of boys playing basketball and most of the girls reading on the side.
Just because "gym" could provide valuable life skills, does not mean it does in the form it currently takes in many schools.
The only issue I had was for team sports where the individual differences are just way too high to construct a game interesting for everybody.
In fact, when I moved to California, I saw that everyone was really into climbing, and started doing it too because I had done it in school, even though I had never been into it at the time.
By Physical Education, I mean learn about basic health issues, commons diseases and symptoms to look out for, learn the importance of diet and exercise, standard first aid, that kind of thing.
At no point is there any option of "hey, let's tailor a fitness goal and plan for you to stick to for the majority of your life". But then again, the goal of schools isn't to maximize pleb fitness, right?
 and to clarify, I’m talking about high school coaches, not college.
Honestly, even without the need, it would probably be better if modern PE was structured with the intent of preparing students as much as individually practical for participation in the universal militia, even if we know to a relative high degree of certaintt that those who don't volunteer are unlikely to be called to serve, with a curriculum cooperatively designed by experts in child physical development, child intellectual and social development, and modern military operations and civil emergency operations.
As it is, it seems to be an unfocussed and poorly directed afterthought that remains around because eliminating it would offend people, but without a strong purpose or any concern from policy makers except firefighting reacting to problems that emerge as the unmaintained structure clashes with evolving social values.
It took me years to recover, I never did any more structured exercise until I was in my late 30's, now I love it.
Stereotypical jocks lose when you stack-rank them in a random math class, so the second they can drop maths they do. And before that, they might wag it.
Stereotypical nerds lose when you stack-rank them in a random p.e. class, so the second they can drop p.e. they do. And before that, they might wag it.
When you force people in the bottom end of skill distribution into a stack rank system, it does real damage to their self esteem. And this will essentially traumatize them from actually achieving growth in the subject. And that growth is actually important. Stereotypical jocks are much better off for not being afraid of maths. Stereotypical nerds are much better off for not being afraid of exercise.
One solution is pretty simple. Isolate the top, say, 10-20% of performers in each skill, and stack-rank away if you want. They'll have enough self esteem with respect to the skill to be motivated by the open competition. But most of all, just isolate them from the rest.
With the rest, you'll probably have more luck with a growth mindset type philosophy. Do whatever you can to take focus away from absolute performance metrics, and get them to focus on their own growth. And keep them the hell away from that top 10-20%.
Ideally, you follow this principle through all the way through the skill distribution and organize classes into quintiles of ability.
Just remember, if you're going to rank people, then isolate them from people they can't compete with.
It takes a very unusual kid/teenager to come away motivated by the experience of being totally dominated in some area.
My son's Judo instructors had much more fond memories of European style instruction, which sounded considerably more demanding, but more structured and educational. Part of the problem to my way of thinking was that PE class, by high school, has just become a way of glorifying those who already have physical prowess at the expense of everyone else.
This is not helped by the fact that most PE teachers, in my experience, were the most avid disciplinarians and the least intelligent teachers of anyone I encountered.
It's a pity. It could be done way better. They would have to start earlier, set higher standards for the kids (while practicing positivity and focusing on how much they can improve everyone), and VASTLY increase the quality of the teachers. It also wouldn't hurt to reemphasize the offering of a wide variety of sports for everyone (rather than focusing all resources on a few chosen teams, or, like most schools I know about in Australia now, just not really having sport anymore).
The worst part of gym class was the bullying. The aggressors usually got energized through gym class and started messing with other students right after. Gym classes were pretty big and we often had "do what you want" days so idle/bored bullies went into action some more.
PE has clearly always been for suckers, I remember seeing kids playing volleyball or soccer or running 3 times a week in the hot sun with no sunscreen, half of them not really even giving a fuck, and thinking how I had NO desire to be a part of that mess.
Weightlifting by contrast, was not only an easier class but also much more educational. It was like going to the gym and having a personal trainer plan your workout and give you advice. The coaches wrote up an exercise plan on the whiteboard and you just went and did it on your own, occasionally they walked around making sure people weren't goofing off.
If you wanted to slack off it was easy to just do light weights and go through the motions but most people actually did put in effort to see physical change in their bodies (and of course there's always peer pressure to be strong and fit, especially with girls watching). And because weightlifting has natural downtime in between reps you could socialize freely.
The stuff I learned in that class helped me to not be clueless when I went to an actual gym by myself. In fact, I've been going to the gym regularly ever since that class ended.
I think what we really need is a serious, rigid, disciplined curriculum in PE. That probably doesn't involve team sports so much as learning to exercise for fitness and self improvement, totally different from the half-assed gym classes that we have in the US now.
Bullying is a symptom of other problems and is not an argument against good physical education. Perhaps if ours hadn't turned into such a sensitive, coddling culture, we wouldn't have a 40% obesity rate.
Outside of that, I have to agree that gym class didn't really teach me anything.
I wasn't that great. But I found out that, if I got open in the end zone, they'd throw me the ball, and I could catch it. This led to me going out for the football team.
I wasn't that great there, either. I was like fifth or sixth on the depth chart. But it led to a lifetime of being in fairly decent shape.
(Note well: Gym class itself did not lead to a lifetime of being in fairly decent shape. But the exposure to various sports, and finding one that I liked and did all right at, was still a big deal. Also note that this was in the 1970s; things may well be worse now.)
It seems like a pretty rigid curriculum that's centered around various easy to quantify things (like time to run a mile) and not anything to do with being healthy, exercising, or having fun.
So they keep them on the asphalt for an hour when it's 110F. They teach them dancing and changing partners every 30 seconds during flu season. They have then run through muddy grass when it's raining. More like a boot camp than anything fun/healthy.
Will the horrors never end?
> why this particular P.E. program was counterproductive... points to bullying... it facilitates the teasing of overweight or unathletic kids.
Making PE more strict on _everyone_ because of the _few_ promotes the exact opposite of the desired result. It's fallacious to believe the obese are that way because they are bullied. We divert dumb kids, yes? Why is it insensitive for the obese? Mixing these groups destroys morale. Varsity kids workout together, junior-varsity work out together, etc, because it works.
The administration babysits warm bodies for cash. The PE teachers will end up taking the blame for giving kids their recess back.
Gym class taught me that a healthy lifestyle is about extreme discipline and regular self-torture. It took me a decade to discover that you could ramp up into exercise in a way that didn’t make you want to die, and to make sense of the way other people talked about having any kind of positive experiences with it.
* gym class was every single day, 5th grade until 12th grade.
* mile run every Friday (I hated it, but it did help me get to sub-7 mins by high school, for someone who was never athletic)
* heart-rate monitors we wore that strapped across our chests. every day we had to get our monitor and apply this gross conductive gel to the device and strap it around our bare skin at chest level. you got credit for the gym period if you got >15mins of HR above 120.
* Those scooters with wheels on them.
* Step-aerobics. Holy cow. Exercising with plastic stools.
* A locker room with showers, which showers I have never seen anyone use once.
* line dancing for some reason?
So that was the end of PE, at least for me...
Schools can't teach IQ.
Does gym teach conscientiousness? I don't know, but for smart kids academic high school classes certainly don't. School should not be easy for anyone including smart kids, it needs to challenge.
“These adolescents were not enjoying the daily P.E. requirements and would’ve rather skipped school,”
Swap that with work and you get life. At what stage do you teach children to be adults?
"Give that chicken fat back to the chicken and don't be chicken again."
"Nuts to the flabby guys."