The Real Reason Gym Class Is Terrible

The Real Reason Gym Class Is Terrible


Gym class. It’s an easy punch line. P.E. is supposed to encourage health and fitness from an early age. But for many kids, it’s a terrible experience. And it may be more detrimental than we thought. P.E. became a standard of requirement right after the civil war. It was recognized after the war that we really didn’t have enough kids fit to fight in combat. and since then it’s been pretty standard
part of the school experience. Today PE is viewed as a method for addressing an
increase in childhood obesity rates There’s just a very understandable need
for young people to have as much physical activity as they do have time
at their desks just allowing them to get out the jitters and being able to sit
and concentrate after a long period. But consider the case of Texas Fitness Now, a
37 million dollar physical fitness program implemented in 2007. According to
a recent study mandatory gym class doesn’t reduce obesity or add value to
middle school curriculums. So this program provided low-income middle
schools with money for fitness equipment under the condition that students attend
PE class for at least 30 minutes per day. And it found that the PE requirement was
actually counterproductive it not only has a negligible impact on fitness and
academic achievement but it can also really take a hit on kids discipline
they were more likely to be truant and more likely to act out and the theory
about why that was is that kids were getting bullied. The locker room is an
area which is mostly unsupervised by middle school coaches and teachers and
by providing students this new arena to meet every single day it could be that
students are just bullying each other more. And there was a 7% increase in the
proportion of students causing a disruption. All coupled with the
complicating factor of puberty. Kids are feeling ashamed of their weight
or ashamed of their inability to run fast. They’re also ashamed of their sweat their appearance and this is
particularly true in middle school when kids are especially self-conscious. So PE
may be causing more problems than it is solving and yet it’s still a requirement
for public schools in 47 states. But is it all bad? If PE is done well it can
have a really pronounced effect on kids’ fitness. Schools could rethink the entire program. The design of a PE class really really
matters. My ideal PE program would be a mix of recess-type opportunities, hiking,
yoga, activities that really just create this organic opportunity to be
physically active. This might do better at creating a healthy relationship with exercise that will last a lifetime. Teachers can play a role in this too. Really remembering that they need to be supportive. That they need to ensure that
bullying isn’t happening to ensure that kids are enjoying
themselves. Just to ask kids, “What do you want to do?” Hey I’m Alia Wong. I’m a
staff writer at the Atlantic if you want to see more videos like this please
subscribe to our YouTube channel.