Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Memories of High School Physical Education Classes

I love Facebook. It allows you to catch up with old high school acquaintances and friends.  You get to learn a lot about their past, their careers, their kids, their interests. You get the idea.

One of my high school acquaintances recently friended me on Facebook. We went to high school in Midland, TX. She teaches physical education in Texas.  Or as commonly known as PE. I recall her as a very kind and intelligent lady and I think she was a cheerleader. 

After she told me what she did, it made me think of the PE teachers I had in junior and high school. 

First, let me start with an admission. I was not athletic in high school, just ask my family, friends, anybody who has seen me dance.  I was uncoordinated and somewhat clumsy.  In fact, even today I am not athletic. 

Apparently in my family, starting with my father, athletic skills skip a generation.  My sister is the exception to the rule.  Athletics were challenging and I was never good.  When teams for any sports activity were picked, I was among the last selected.  And I do mean every team sport, even tennis doubles.

Now realize, I am not talking about organized sports or other activities. I am referring to that 45 minute or hour class every day.  A couple of the coaches I had appeared to think if you were not athletic it was your fault and you should work harder.  One coach’s last name started with N.

I look back now and I think embarrassing or intimidating students is the wrong approach.  As is an overbearing attitude. An example? Yes, I recall an overweight high school student that the coach always made play on the skins side when we played shirts and skins.  It was unfair to him.  I suspect he was trying to motivate the student to get into better physical shape, but I think the coach simply embarrassed him.  

In one respect, I think it is a show of concern.  But, the method could be more damaging.

This kind of bullying and attitude turned me off athletics completely.  It was not until college that I started to play football and other sports with fellow students.  Yes, I had not improved much, if at all.  And yes, I was still among the last to be chosen, but at that point it bothered me far less. I just had fun.

Of course I have had some really good PE teachers in junior and high school. They did not single out a student because they were uncoordinated or overweight.  They made the class fun for those of us that who are not gifted. They made sure the teams were fair.  Most importantly when they could and the opportunity presented itself, they used it as a teaching moment.  I think my old high school acquaintance now teaching PE is of this mold.  And I suspect that her students are fortunate.

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