Physical education is not a frill

Gym in today’s standardized test era is given low priority.  But a new study indicates that is a grave mistake (“How You Felt About Gym Class May Impact Your Exercise Habits Today,” The New York Times, Aug. 22).

Despite the passage of decades, people remember most vividly the time they spent in P.E.  If the associations are positive, they shape whether exercise is incorporated into their lives as adults.  Too often, however, P.E. in school was a time of humiliation.  So much depends on the way P.E. teachers conduct their classes.  If they stress competition over all else, those who are not natural athletes will be shortchanged.

Rather than emphasize winning through traditional sports, teachers need to consider other forms of engaging students.  I’m thinking now about yoga, dancing, spinning and the like.  These are physical activities that can be engaged in for the rest of everyone’s lives.  That can’t be said about basketball, football and baseball. Moreover, they allow all students to avoid humiliation.

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