Whatever Happened to Gym Class?.
Ground Zero continued...
Award-winning physical education teacher John Williams, of
North Carolina's Ayden Elementary School, has heard the criticisms and
acknowledges some teachers still fit the clichÃ©. But, he says, most PE teachers
take their jobs very seriously and have incorporated wellness programs into
their classes to teach children skills that will help them stay fit for
The 25-year teaching veteran has gone one step further and
includes math, geography, and social studies in his classes through games the
"These days PE teachers are expendable, and they know
it," he says. "That is why I believe it is best to learn how to
integrate curriculums and work the whole child."
While some of those interviewed expressed pessimism about the
future of school-based physical education, others say administrators and public
officials are beginning to recognize its value. Late last year Congress passed
the Physical Education for Progress Act (PEP), which authorizes up to $400
million in grants over the next five years to expand and improve PE programs
for public schools.
Young sees this as evidence that the pendulum is beginning to
swing back toward a more balanced view of a school's role in educating the mind
and keeping the body healthy.
"If kids aren't healthy and fit, we are going to have a
diminished return on that academic investment," she says. "We are
asking kids to sit in classes for six hours a day, and we wonder why they
misbehave. I can't keep adults sitting still in a meeting for an hour and a
half without giving them a break."