We all remember hitting the playgrounds for recess. It was a time to get some fresh air, get away from the classroom and clear your head, tackle your buddies on the field and chase the girls. Some of the more organized would start games that would then conclude over lunch or the afternoon recess. School represented a balance between mind and body.
That has all changed. Some where on the way to the playground a decision was made that physical education was as important as any other subject that is not math, English, science or social studies. Physical education has become an elective. When an active 7th grader can only elect to take P.E. for a 9-week period, representing a quarter of the school year, something is wrong. Schools need to mandate physical education for the entire year and put it back into the category of required primary core courses.
The minds of school-aged children are shaped early on. Is it any surprise that the prevalence of overweight children has continued to rise since 1980 when we have de-emphasized the importance of physical education in school? But, it isn’t just a weight thing. You just can’t keep kids cooped up in a classroom for seven hours while allowing 30 minutes for lunch. It isn’t healthy and the kids will under perform in the classroom. Just think how you would be if you couldn’t get that lunch workout in, or for that matter leave the building.
I’ve grown tired of hearing the reasons behind this change. Common ones include budgets, coordination of bus schedules, expanded classes for band, choir, music, computer science, etc. Here is an idea; extend the school day by 30 minutes. That isn’t going to kill anyone and it just may end up saving tens of thousands of lives down the road.
We need to re-establish the connection between mind and body in schools. Mandate physical education in school for the entire year.