November 10, 2023
It’s disheartening that the prevailing narrative around PE is one of indifference. Many perceive it as a course that’s neither fun nor essential for a quality education.
The consequences of this narrative are visible within our behavior: It’s not uncommon for families to miss parent-teacher conferences related to PE, as it’s perceived as less critical than academic subjects. It’s also not uncommon for “core subject” educators to hold students from PE as a disciplinary measure.
For me growing up, PE was more than just a class; it was a source of inspiration and motivation. Despite facing challenges in math and science, I excelled in PE – often achieving perfect scores and perfect attendance. I not only learned valuable exercise and healthy eating habits but also gained a sense of pride, acceptance, and honor in my accomplishments.
Yet, the recognition and acknowledgment for these achievements often paled in comparison to the accolades received by those who thrived in traditional academic subjects.
Still, I eventually became a PE teacher – a position I held and loved for 11 years. In my view, PE can be much more than an indifferent extra.
With a few intentional decisions, it can be a powerful force for positive change. By expanding our recognition of ways students can be successful in our schools, we can invite more students to feel they belong there.
Here are 9 intentional choices educators can make to change the narrative around PE:
Shifting the narrative around PE allows us to celebrate the unique strengths and talents of a significant group of often-forgotten or ignored students, ensuring that success is not limited to “traditional” academic subjects alone. This shift will empower students to embrace their passions and excel in areas that resonate with them, whether that’s on the basketball court or in the science lab. In doing so, we have the potential to transform lives, communities, and our future.
My call for a shift in the way we think about PE is not just a call to being more inclusive; it’s a call to recognize and celebrate the inherent value of every child’s unique journey through education.