PE: More than playing games

On the same wavelength stemming from my last blog post “Where I stand: Team Sports in PE“, I was concerned when I read an article by Sean Powers entitled “Weighing P.E. Amid Education Funding Shortfalls“.  As with many locations in the United States (and Canada), schools are being forced to make the hard decisions concerning hiring physical education specialists in elementary school vs. getting elementary school generalist teachers teach PE in addition to the rest of their course load due to lack of funding.

One teacher was quoted in the article as saying:

“P.E. is sort of you go into a big room, and you have to use a larger voice usually, and you’re trying to organize a game, which is a different thing than trying to organize a lesson,” she said. “And so that mindset has to change, and that juggling is difficult to learn. That’s one of the reasons we pair up.”

I have no problems with teachers teaching multiple content areas as long as they have a foundation in understanding the different subjects, understand underlying pedagogy, methodology and management needed to accompany teaching various subjects.

Physical education isn’t about “organizing games”, “(using) a larger voice”, and “(going) into a big room”. Just about anybody can do that.  Physical education is about providing students with skills they need to become happy, healthy, physically active, fit, well, socially competent, responsible and respectful people who have had experiences in a wide variety of physical activities, venues and social settings.  Not just anybody can provide students with all of that while carefully selecting developmentally appropriate activities that support the PE curriculum.

There are many of us PE teachers out there who work our butts off planning, organizing, and creating valuable, worthwhile units and lessons (not just games) to support the growth, learning and development of our students in meaningful ways.  Although games do have an important role to play as they can help students achieve lesson and unit goals if carefully selected to meet standards and benchmarks.

That is not to say that there aren’t amazing generalists out there, I know there are.  With solid foundations in a multitude of content areas, the right person can do an amazing job. So I don’t want to sell these people short or minimize generalists.  They can do more than I can. I only hope that if school boards decide to have generalists teach physical education, that they are supported with PD help in the foundations of PE.

It maddens me when content areas like art, music and physical education get the short end of the stick and are cut from schools.  These subject areas are so vital and important  to a student’s growth and development in so many ways. Although I am not an accountant and do understand that cuts are often necessary to be able to continue to provide any type of education. It also maddens me when people think that PE is just playing games and running around without purpose.

So for all those hard working phys-ed teachers out there, I’ve got your back. We’re not dumb jocks. We care about our students.  We are passionate about our content area. We teach with purpose and with a plan.

We do more than just play games.

Ultimate Frisbee Golf. Photo by Liz Halina CC-BY-ND-NC

Ultimate Frisbee Golf. Photo by Liz Halina CC-BY-ND-NC

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