Tuesday, August 28, 2007

balancing priorities



This picture is from the 1960s.

The President's Council on Youth Fitness was formed, actually by Eisenhower, but President Kennedy took it very seriously, mandating physical education classes in schools.

Growing up in the 60s, I remember PE very well. We all knew that President Kennedy was the reason we had to have PE in school. Volleyball, basketball, pull ups, running, even rope climbing.

Our 13 year-old granddaughter is in middle school. She has no breaks between classes, no recess, and definitely no physical education. They don't leave the building all day, no fresh air, sunshine, no sitting on the bleachers, no walking around the football field.

So why do the schools no longer have physical education? The state of the nation - physically - is in worse shape than ever, but the PE classes have dwindled down to nothing.

Sure the academic classes are important, but can't we balance our priorities a little better?

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. ~ John F. Kennedy

~picture (click to enlarge) from JFK in History

7 comments:

The Calico Cat said...

I remember PE too - for better or worse...

In my last High School, you had to have 2 years of PE to graduate. (I remember that strongly because I got there for the last semester & still had .5 years to make up...

That school (& my first HS) were open so we got a lot of sunshine - even if it was only when we were traveling from one class to another.

I did not realize that there was so little P.E. now... (I guess it fell by the wayside like art and music.)

When I taught elementary school (mid-90's) those classes were only occasionally taught - hard to keep that schedule straight - as in Art 1 hour 1 week, music 1 hour another week - PE was more often - maybe weekly? Recess was daily if the weather cooperated.

The Calico Cat said...

Oh I should mention that those are school hours, not calendar hours...

Holly said...

I hated PE growing up but then we didn't have computers, video games, or even a t.v. in my house so I was always out climbing trees, rollerskating, riding bikes, swimming, flying kites etc. So I don't think schools are necessarily the (only) culprit. Parents should make their kids go outside and do something in the afternoons. Just IMHO.

Motherkitty said...

Growing up, we had PE from elementary school all the way through high school (graduated in 1960). As a matter of fact, we have two olympic-sized swimming pools in our HS (one for girls and one for boys) and we swam every day. We had a pool at the nearby civic center that we swam in year-round. In high school we also played softball, volleyball, had trampoline, did exercises every day. In the summer we played tennis and swam. We were all physically active, fit, and trim. We didn't start putting on the pounds until we became middle-aged, stopped smoking, became sedentary at our jobs, started eating more fast food, and sat and watched more TV. So, the answer to all the questions is, get up off your butt and DO SOMETHING physical and the weight will start to come off. Did I just say that? Hmmm, I must take my own advice.

jellyhead said...

Well, I don't know what the answer is, because here in Oz, we have PE once a week in schools, right through primary to high school. However, our country has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world.

I guess daily PE would be ideal, but then kids have so much to fit in at school.

I think kids need to have limits on their TV/computer use, so that they have time to play sports and run around at home. I think we as parents need to make sure we're setting a good example, and where possible do physical activities together eg hiking, walking, swimming.

Your post has really got us all talking here! Thanks for reminding us of this important topic.

janet said...

There is no balance any more. PE is left to the parents and we know how that probably goes.

Linda_J said...

My guess would be that they are too busy "teaching to the test" to meet some criteria of NCLB and PE gets cut out of the cirriculum. Then all we hear about on the news is about how we are all getting fatter and childhood obesity increasing and diabetes on the rise. Like, DUH!