Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.
Issues in Physical Education
There have been major changes in physical education over the years. Physical education is now defined as the overall development of health and wellness. It's no longer seen as just a separate class or subject, but an integrated content area with its own standards and objectives. People everywhere are recognizing the importance of physical education beyond the focus on movement, and its role in creating a healthy lifestyle.
Current research, improved resources, and specified standards have all enlightened people to see how vital physical education is in elementary and secondary schools. Let's take a look at some specific historical issues.
Physical education is important in providing a healthy lifestyle for Americans. Documents from the Surgeon General's Report, the Healthy People Report 2000, and the Center for Disease Control's guidelines showed that generally people are inactive, have a poor diet, and are overweight. In turn, we are realizing the impact physical education can have.
Physical education teachers have a curriculum with goals, objectives, and assessments to help students realize how to lead healthy lives. Experiences in a physical education classroom don't just develop movement. They help students learn and practice ways to stay healthy and fit.
Physical education wasn't always required to be offered in schools until after the Civil War. Then, in the 1900s it became more of a focus. Since Eisenhower, many American presidents have placed an emphasis on physical fitness. Eisenhower created the President's Council on Youth Fitness, which eventually led to the development of the Presidential Fitness Test Award, intended to prepare young Americans for the military.
Then, in 1972, the Title IX federal law prohibited sexual discrimination. Many physical education programs at the time separated girls and boys during class. With the introduction of Title IX, it was suggested that they form homogeneous classes based on the following principles:
- Physical education classes cannot be conducted separately on the basis of gender.
- Students may be grouped by ability, even if it results in more of one sex in a specific group.
- Students may be separated by gender in class for specified sports with physical contact such as wrestling and boxing.
- Standards can be changed or modified to avoid gender bias.
Research supports the fact that physical education classes aid in the physical and mental health of all individuals. In addition to preschool programs becoming more prominent across schools, new physical education guidelines are required. There's an increasing number of schools that are creating pre-K programs. A quality early childhood education is known to have a positive impact on a child's overall development. Physical education teachers are learning to help pre-k students thrive in their classrooms as they adhere to specified early childhood standards.
Let's see current trends that include all students as part of the physical education classroom.
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education created standards of specific content and skills students are required to know to ensure they meet specific grade-level benchmarks for health and fitness. Research and experience show that a quality education is one that encompasses the whole student, physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. The physical aspect involves demonstrating competency in motor skills and movement through various activities. The cogntivie portion applies to the knowledge of concepts, principles, and strategies in the development of movement, exercise, and athletic skills. Lastly, the social and emotional portion focuses on developing good sportsmanship, leadership, and teamwork, as in exhibiting appropriate behaviors such as respect and recognizes the value of nutrition and physical activity to promote overall mental and physical health.
The final area of issues we will look at involves social aspects in physical education.
When the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was put into legislation, it specified the importance of free and appropriate education for all students in the least restrictive environment. This act results in educators including students with a disability within the regular education classroom as much as possible. If the supplemental aids and services cannot meet the student's needs, then and only then may a child receive instruction in a different setting.
Physical education teachers could use various modifications to include all students, such as using a variety of instructional strategies, teaching to different learning styles, adjusting the speed of instruction, using visual clues, and changing the choice of equipment on offer.
Physical education teachers have a huge responsibility in overseeing each child's safety. Because of the nature of their classroom, they need to closely monitor and supervise students to prevent injury. With the physical activities that are required in P.E. class, some risky situations may be hard to avoid, but educators need to be attentive. By adhering to specific guidelines, educators will be seen as responsible individuals. These include proper supervision, appropriate instruction, a safe environment, and proper warning of potentially dangerous situations.
It's vital for physical education teachers to be up-to-date on the current best practices and standards. They should take interest in speaking of the benefits of a quality physical education program as it helps individuals maintain a healthy lifestyle. Educators should seek support from parents and the community as physical education is a necessity for overall health and well-being.
Remember, physical education and its role in schools is important in creating a healthy lifestyle for everyone. There are now specific standards that educators use in their instruction to ensure each child is receiving the quality education he or she deserves. An overview of historical, philosophical, and social issues helps physical education teachers become advocates in sharing the many lifelong benefits of an effective physical education program. All students should have the opportunity to thrive through movement and overall fitness goals.
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