I could explain to you the train of thought that lead up to me thinking of elementary school PE, but you’d probably stop reading (faster). Getting to my point, I was thinking about how as a lad I was pretty good at the long distance running we were forced into, but pretty bad at the sprinting. I guess it was more middle distance. Which brings me to my two points; why should I have known that I could run a faster quarter mile than my classmates, and why was I forced to run a quarter mile at all?

Now that Shaq is fighting childhood obesity, maybe we should pay a little attention to whether or not there PE classes are encouraging them to be active (which leads to being not fat). I’m not sure if that is the goal of phys ed, but it should be. This entire argument is based on my experiences, as I don’t have, or even know, any children.

The PE I remember consisted of a three types of activities. Largely learning team sports and playing the kinds of games only kids play (dodgeball, tetherball, etc). Those two get the Working’s For Suckers Thumbs Up. Then there was the boot camp preparation. Testing the kids to see how fast they can run, how far they can stretch, sit ups, etc. To go along with this, everybody is measured and compared. Every kid knows who’s fast, who’s strong, and who can hang from a metal bar for a long time. Most kids could probably tell you before Mr. Bruener (or whoever their gym teacher is) makes them do it. But he makes them anyway.
I think most adults will agree that this type of shit sucks. It sucks without being shamed at the end, and that sucks more. My recollection from Roosevelt Elementary was that we were measured throughout the year and rewarded for improving. I guess they thought this might motivate us to practice the arm hang at home? I know there wasn’t anywhere near enough incentive for kids to practice and work out. So you give the athletic kids a pat on the back, which is nice, since athletic kids get very little encouragement growing up, but the fatty’s, gimps, dweebs and lazy kids get put through some crap and then told they suck.

In case your wondering, I didn’t suck, I’m not writing this out of bitterness. I’m also not expecting the PE teachers of America to read this and stop making kids run for no reason. But they should, let ’em play dodgeball, hop-scotch, or teach em some yoga.

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