The Value of Physical Exercise and P.E. Classes at Schools
Physical activity is vital for human development and health. At schools, P.E. classes can operate as the method of providing physical activities for school students and keeping them fit, helping to lower the risks of developing obesity and avoiding other negative effects of sedentary lifestyle. In debates about whether P.E. should be made mandatory, most of the arguments are in favor of such an approach. Those who argue against it doubt the actual effects of P.E. classes on children’s health and fitness. However, different studies and personal experience of students and teachers prove that P.E. classes are good for school students’ fitness and development and, therefore, should be made mandatory in all the school curricula. Other opinions, however, are also expressed; they highlight possible negative psychological impact on children unable to do well in P.E. class.
Billy Strean, a professor of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation in Canada says that a negative lifelong attitude towards physical activity can be a teacher’s or instructor’s requirements (Negative phys ed teacher can cause a lifetime of inactivity). He cites a letter written to him by a 51-year-old-woman who described how her negative childhood experience of P.E. in school, which included deep humiliation, instilled into her a life-long aversion of sport. Another negative point is that P.E. classes may not provide as much physical activity as they are expected to. Studies that used direct observation or devices to measure the time students spend physically active during P.E. show that this factor is often overestimated. For example, elementary school students were found to spend only 9-42% of P.E. time in moderate to vigorous physical activity (Cawley, Frisvold and Meyerhoefer 2). In addition, physical activity during P.E. at school can decrease physical activity outside the school curriculum, where sports and other activities can be practiced in a more efficient way. Some schools and local authorities that are against making P.E. classes mandatory point out that it is difficult for schools to find additional time required for physical education.
They believe that having mandatory P.E. classes is not efficient in the existing school setting, with its focus on students’ academic achievement. The Republican State Representative Larry Metz, from Florida, the U.S.A., claims making P.E. mandatory would make it necessary to have a longer school day, which will be detrimental for children’s health (Carollo). 44 percent of school administrators in the U.S.A. have had to cut time from P.E. to give it to reading and mathematics since the adoption of the No Child Left Behind Act (Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School). In other countries, school students also have to make course choices between different classes. In such situations, the solution proposed by some local authorities is to leave the decision on P.E. in the school curriculum to local school districts and other local authorities (Carollo). In addition, research on the influence …