What Physical Education Once Was
Running, jumping, climbing, skipping, hopping.
Going over, under, around.
Pulling up, pushing down.
Do these motions sound familiar? If you’re of a certain age, I’m sure they sound very familiar. For many of you, they were an integral part of your daily life. You did them without even thinking about them, and possibly, without even realizing you were doing them. And, not only did you do these movements throughout your day, but you were asked, required actually, to do them daily in Physical Education class.
Personally, I believe Physical Education in schools today, or rather the lack there of, is crippling America. While that may sound extreme, I believe it’s true. Kids today just aren’t getting the motion they need. If you’re 40 or older, think back to when you were in elementary school. Remember how much you moved? You had P.E. daily, recess multiple times each day, and when you got home from school, you headed back outside until your mom and dad called you in for dinner.
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My upbringing was filled with motion. At the risk of sounding too cliché, I grew up in a small Kansas town of about 1,200 people on a dirt road that dead-ended into railroad tracks. Every day after school, and every day during the summer, my buddies and I would head to the railroad tracks and play. We would ride our bikes as if we were BMX professionals, climb trees, built forts with hammers and nails, and go on “adventures” that took us all over the neighborhood. Life was great.
Today is different.
Today is filled with busyness, technology, drive-throughs, and sitting.
Today is filled with sickness, fatigue, and obesity.
And, sadly, we see all those traits in the youth of today.
Yet there is one group who is attempting to change that.
Today I want to introduce you to the folks from La Sierra High School and the JFK Challenge. I wasn’t familiar with the JFK Challenge until about a month ago, but it’s a movement that I feel can profoundly impact the youth of today, not to mention our country as a whole. Check this out:
Did you notice anything “odd” about the students working out in that video? Did you notice how every student in that video was in peak physical condition? They barely had an ounce of fat on them!
Now let me ask you another question: Have you been to P.E. class lately? Because I have. Just a few months ago I visited my son’s P.E. class and helped lead the teachers and students through a Patch Fitness workout. Let me tell you, the kids in my son’s class didn’t look anything like the students in the video. Sure, I was in an elementary school, and the kids are younger than the ones in the video, but trust me when I say I’m not seeing any of today’s high schoolers who look like those students in the video, either.
But even if we ignore the physical benefits that are clearly evident in the video, what is often ignored are the mental benefits that students experience when they move. If you haven’t read the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Movement and the Brain, I would strongly suggest you do so. It speaks to the direct link between the physical and the mental. When you ask a kid to move, they do better in school, have a longer attention span, and have fewer disciplinary actions. So, not only are they getting in better shape, but they’re also getting smarter!
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By asking today’s youth to sit still, by removing P.E. from the cirriculum, we are doing them (and eventually us) a HUGE disservice. We are seeing more disease and more pain, and at a younger age, than we’ve ever seen before. We have to get our youngest generation moving. If we don’t, we’re doing nothing more than slowly crippling them.
So, if you feel led, help the good folks at the JFK Challenge out. Take a look at their site and consider contributing to their campaign. YOUR kids will thank you!
QUESTION: What was your Physical Education experience when you were in school?