Physical education should be individualized. One size does not fit all. This is extremely challenging, but with creative tools like Physical Best, Fitness for Life, and Fitnessgram, physical educators are becoming more like personal trainers than coaches. We should focus on activity and nutrition leading to good health and wellness. If we can’t do everything, we need to at least do this.
Therefore, while playing age appropriate games is important, our emphasis needs to be on building lifelong skills and attitudes. Being active and eating well is vital at any age, but it becomes a matter of life or death as we get older. We can’t put fitness in the bank and use it later; we have to keep active and eating well to maintain the benefits.
We also need to emphasize participation and stop the trend toward becoming a nation of spectators, with a few highly skilled athletes playing and everyone else watching. All students should be provided opportunities to both cooperate and compete in physical activities. Both are important life skills, and both can be fun.
Our students should graduate with an understanding of the key principles of fitness and nutrition. They should be informed consumers of activity, nutrition, and wellness and be ready to assume self-responsibility for their own health through prevention.
And, please, let’s make sure our K-12 schools provide a logical scope and sequence—let’s teach articulated curriculums and not just bump the volleyball for 13 straight years.
Finally, we have to embrace technology to effectively communicate our message and get people moving. New innovations can help kids become physically active while playing video games and provide motivation for those who otherwise wouldn’t be active.
However, from a personal perspective, I hope technology only plays a supporting role in the future. I think we’re going to rob kids of something special if we only promote their participation in a virtual world. I grew up outdoors, in the wind and rain and snow and mud. And as I approach 55, I’d still rather play tennis or basketball or hike with my dog than play a video game or watch TV. I hope physical education in the future can help kids enjoy activity in the real world, not just the virtual one.
Vice President and Director of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance