Most of the people reading this blog have a driver’s license. However, it didn’t just materialize. You went through some sort of training. Perhaps you took traditional driver’s education classes; I still recall the first time I was ever put behind a wheel in the Avinger High School parking lot.
Maybe some of you might have been effective drivers without that training, but even if you cannot admit that you would have been a disaster as an untrained driver, you can certainly recognize that others would have been.
Can you imagine what roads would be like if when all kids turned 16 we just tossed them the keys, sans training, and said “go for it!”?
But that is what we do in Texas with our children and their health; we just “toss them the keys” and hope it works out. (Click to Tweet)
1. In Texas, health courses are not required of high school students and have not been for several years.
That means that many graduates in Texas have not had a health course of any sort since Junior High; in other words, 18-year-olds we turn loose as “adults” were likely 13 or 14 when they last got health information from their coursework, meaning that many (most? all?) health questions were answered by some combination of the internet and/or other teenagers.
2. In Texas, secondary school Physical Education courses are “required”, but not really.
Scroll down to 74.37; that is what is supposed to be done in “Public School Physical Education” in Texas. However, beginning in 6th grade students may be exempt from regular Physical Education courses in favor of athletics participation, cheer, drill team, and marching band. This is a particular challenge to me, because this means is that the majority of students I am preparing for Texas teaching certification in All-Level (K-12) Physical Education have never actually taken a secondary Physical Education course; for that matter, neither did I! How can I emphasize the importance of teaching Physical Education when no one in the room has actually had the experience?
Now, all of those activities that give secondary Physical Education exemptions have merits, but what they do not do is cover the requirements for “Public School Physical Education” in Texas. (Do not get offended if I pick on your activity; these are examples.)
Football, marching band, and cheerleading are not “lifetime activities”; how rampant are adult tackle football leagues?
To wit, every year I ask freshman that have gone back to their respective hometowns for Homecoming games to report back to me about the physical changes they have seen in teammates that aren’t playing college sports. Overwhelmingly, those teammates have gained “bad weight.” This seems to be especially true for people that had played football lineman positions. The cause is that many of those individuals never cultivated a variety of skills, having been only practicing and working out for one sport since 6th or 7th grade.
Practicing all year to be good at only basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball, or anything does not promote students “choosing among many types of physical activity”. Being really good at one thing is great! However, being able to perform confidently in a variety of physical activity settings is not only a goal of proper Physical Education, but it has been linked to greater amounts of lifetime physical activity and better health.
I LOVE basketball, but when I broke my elbow a few years ago, I still had enough competence in other activities that I could continue to be active and healthy.
None of these possible activity exemptions for 6-12 Physical Education address the required content for “Foundations of Fitness”, which is the state’s only specifically-required high school Physical Education course. In addition to physical activity, that course is supposed to give students the prerequisite knowledge to design personalized rudimentary exercise and nutrition plans. High schoolers with exemptions do not get this information anywhere else.
“Foundations of Fitness” is essentially the high school version of the “Lifetime Fitness” course found at most colleges and universities, including ETBU. Anecdotal evidence from my colleagues that have taught Lifetime Fitness at ETBU reveals a shocking lack of health and physical activity information from the students in those courses, especially among students with high school team sports backgrounds. They simply have never seen the material before.
Now, I am not advocating eliminating high school team sports activities; those were a vital component to my personal growth in a variety of ways, and they continue to serve that same role now for countless others.
That said, high school team sports and other activities are not substitutes for the content that is supposed to be taught in Physical Education. (Click to Tweet)
One of my greatest responsibilities is to ensure that my potential Physical Education teachers understand how important their jobs are; done correctly, real Physical Education can change individuals, families, and entire cultures.
One day, it will be the responsibility of my students to ensure that we don’t just “toss the keys” to a generation of youth in regards to their bodies, turning them loose on the roads of life without knowing how to drive. Damage to a car can often be repaired and even if it is totaled, it can be replaced, but the damage an uneducated person can do to his or her own body can be irreparable.