A story from the Seattle Times reprinted in today’s News & Observer shows how at least one school district is taking physical education seriously. “Stretching the curriculum: Seattle schools standardize PE” describes how the Seattle Public Schools have tossed the laissez faire/lazy fare approach to gym class currently in vogue in America in favor of a more structured fitness program intended to instill a lifelong sense of the importance of exercise.
“PE is not recess or mindless play anymore,” an elementary school gym teacher is quoted as saying. (Quick caveat: I’m a proponent of mindless play, which typically evolves into creative play, which kids are much more likely to embrace than being lined up in the gym and doing 100 jumping jacks. Skateboading, as our fit friend Bart Simpson shows, is a great example of mindless/creative play. The problem: A lot of kids who see no example of physical activity on the home front will turn mindless play into mindless sitting under a tree and listening to the iPod.)
It’s a story you might also want to pass along to your local school board members. Most districts in the North Carolina stick with the State Board of Education’s policy on PE for grades K-8, which requires a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Sounds good until you realize that those 30 minutes can come from such basic activities as walking from class to class.
Read the Seattle Times story, let us know what you think.