Physical Education is not Dead!

I sent in a letter to the editor about physical education.  Here is the one that was published……


And the original letter……

I am writing in response to Mr. Haff’s letter, Flabby Youth Need PE.  I completely agree that the obesity rate for today’s youth is astonishing and frightening, but I believe it is a misstep to blame this trend on our education system.


As a physical educator, I know the many techniques and methods that are used to first educate our students on health and fitness, and then help them apply what they have learned.  In Harrisonburg City Schools, we teach physical education to elementary students for two hours a week.  In those two hours, we are required to teach motor skills, movement principles and concepts, personal fitness concepts, responsible behaviors, and the knowledge and understanding of how to maintain a physically active lifestyle.  We write each lesson according to these goals, which are outlined in the Virginia Physical Education Standards of Learning.


We spend time educating each student on the importance of good health and emphasize goal setting and working to improve fitness at home.  Several weeks of our curriculum are dedicated to a unit entitled, Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids, which we utilize to instruct our students on healthy eating, being physically active and maintaining a positive self-image.  Recently, we have adopted a curriculum supplement called, Five for Life, that uses movement to teach our students about nutrition and fitness.


During every lesson we teach, we incorporate at least one vigorous activity that will help improve our students’ cardiovascular fitness levels.  In comparing the scores of fall and spring fitness tests for our third and fourth graders, I was proud to note that the majority of our students improved their cardiovascular fitness level during the school year.


While I cannot speak on behalf of all physical educators, I am confident that the greater number of teachers in our profession work tirelessly to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to maintain a physically active lifestyle.  Since we cannot control what students eat at home, how much they exercise outside of school and what information they absorb through the media, we are incapable of completely influencing a child’s level of fitness.  We will, however, continue to do the best we can, with the time we’ve got.

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