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|Submission Title:||Physical Education for the Real World|
|Submission Entry:||I believe that physical education needs to become more individualized. One size does not fit all. This is extremely challenging, but with creative tools like Physical Best, Fitness for Life, and Fitnessgram, physical educators are becoming more like personal trainers than coaches. We need our focus to be on activity and nutrition leading to good health and wellness. If we can’t do everything, we need to at least do this.
Playing age appropriate games is important, but we must make sure all students are participating and learning the skills necessary for leading active lives. We need to place more emphasis on participation and stop the trend toward becoming a nation of spectators, with a few highly skilled athletes playing and everyone else watching. And we need to provide students opportunities to both cooperate and compete in physical activities. Both are important life skills, and both can be fun.
Our emphasis needs to be on building lifelong knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Clearly being active and eating well is vital at any age, but it becomes a matter of life or death as we get older. We can’t put fitness in the bank and use it later; we have to stay active and keep eating well to maintain the benefits. That’s why teaching self-management and self-responsibility skills are vital to long-term success.
Our students should graduate with an understanding of the key principles of fitness and nutrition. They should be prepared to be informed consumers of activity, nutrition, and wellness and be ready to assume responsibility for their own health through prevention.
And, please, let’s make sure our K-12 schools provide a logical scope and sequence—let’s teach articulated curriculums and not just bump the volleyball for 13 straight years.
Finally, we have to embrace technology to effectively communicate our message and get people moving. New innovations can help kids become physically active while playing video games and provide motivation for those who otherwise wouldn’t be active.
However, from a personal perspective, I hope technology only plays a supporting role in the future. I think we’re going to rob kids of something special if we only promote their participation in a virtual world because I believe the real world is better. I grew up outdoors, in the wind and rain and snow and mud. And I played with and against other kids (not with or against computers). And even today, as I approach 55, I’d rather play tennis or a pick-up game of basketball or go for a hike with my dog than play a video game or watch TV. I hope physical education in the future can help kids enjoy activity in the real world, not just the virtual one.