Saturday, March 20, 2010

They want education cuts? Start with gym class.

Last Tuesday the Clark County School District posted this survey asking parents, students and taxpayers how the district should handle its $123 million budget shortfall. The district’s goal is to make the cuts with as little impact as possible on student learning. Some of the options they offer are to increase class size, reduce expenditures on textbooks and instructional supplies, eliminate sports and extracurricular activities, and do away with behavioral/alternative schools and school police (!).

If I were queen, I’d say get rid of gym class. Not across the board; let the kids who are into sports continue to play. I get the whole cooperation/team building thing.

No, here’s what I propose: have all kids take a physical fitness test. If they pass, they’re off the hook and don’t have to endure the torture of gym class. I hated gym (I almost didn’t graduate from high school because I skipped it so often) and the dykey gym teachers hated me back because I was all girly and didn’t want to play boys' sports. I was already physically fit from years of ballet—why did I need to learn the rules of basketball? Please.

So, yes, I would have passed the fitness test. But these days we supposedly have a national childhood obesity problem and that’s because kids need to get away from computer and TV screens and play outside until the streetlights go on. So what should we do with those kids who wouldn’t pass a fitness test? I agree they should be physically fit, but subjecting them to the humiliation of being the last one picked on a team for a game they don’t care to play is hardly the answer. These kids would be better served in a gentle calisthenics or yoga program, a program not led by someone with a whistle around their neck, but by volunteers who want to instill self-esteem in these kids, not destroy it.

Okay, so we eliminated a bunch of P.E. positions. On to math.

Basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division—that’s all you need. Unless they want to be carpenters or math teachers, why make kids take dumb-ass classes like geometry and trigonometry? I have yet to find use in everyday life for a friggin’ sine, cosine, or tangent. Most people just need to learn how to figure a 20 percent tip for wait staff in a restaurant (though you can get little cards to keep in your wallet with those calculations). And if something is 40 percent off at Macy’s, it’s good to know how much you’ll need to come up with at the register. (But if you shop at Ross, they put the discounted price right on the sticker.)

Come to think of it, after I learned to read, write, and do basic math—which I pretty much had down by third grade—and considering the knowledge I actually retained into adult life, I bet the remaining nine years of schooling could have been condensed into a semester or two. Lots of opportunities for cutting back there.

How about you? Any thoughts?


Bar L. said...

You and I were just alike in gym class! I skipped ALL the time, was in shape from walking miles up and down hills to and from school, and was also a girly girl. Back in those days they made you shower naked with all the other girls while the Lesbian teachers stood around and watched. I know my teacher was a Lesbian - she was open about it! I also remember her getting mad at me for rolling up the legs of my polyester shorts to make them as short as possible and tying my t-shirt around the middle to expose my "midriff". I had to get tan! Those were the days!

Fragrant Liar said...

Nah, I'm for keeping all that stuff in. They need to do a better job of it, but physical fitness, math, music, art, etc. -- the kids need it all.

Recess. Now, recess they can do without.

Unknown said...

You know, me and my adopted mom were talking about this tonight! She was saying how sad it is that they are getting rid of computer technicians so that the kids won't be able to work with computers and they are also getting rid of musical programs. I am totally agreeing with you...get rid of physical education and make an aerobics or yoga class an option or do the physical test at the beginning of the school year.

Maybe if they'd just stop and think for a moment, they may come up with better solutions.

Mandy said...

I think cutting back on "traditional" P.E. programs is okay but not doing away with physical activity. Just make it more practical for today's world. I was a girly girl and always hated things like volleyball and basketball too. But one year in Junior High, we learned how to line dance, bowl (including scoring), and shoot a gun (skeets, I lived in south Louisiana~). That was such a fun P.E. year. I think they just need to change HOW they are teaching kids. Why not incorporate more modern things like roller blading, aerobics, etc. Or how about safety in P.E. like self defense, changing a flat tire and short distance running.

Just my thoughts. As I just completed my first ever 5k race yesterday and ran it with my dad (note: That's why I haven't called you yet == check out my blog), I would hate to see all physical programs go away in schools.... i just think they need to fit today's kids and not be about the jock teams.

gayle said...

If they would cut out all the high paying jobs at the top maybe the would have enough money!

I Hate to Weight said...

i am with you on everything. gentle yoga for all of us who were coordination-deprived. no whistles allowed

and why did i take calculus and attempt to pass physics? i will never know.

great post!

BenSharpson said...

Why not just do away with schools altogether? Oh, wait, they have socializing value later in life when asked "What school did you go to?"

I agree with the math equation, no pun. Only 3 percent of the population needs to be exposed and given a chance to become mathematicians. And they can be discovered very early in the auditioning/casting process. The rest of us can lead happy productive lives not ever knowing or needing advanced math. As is already the case.

As for Pee Eeee... the argument is the 'discovering hidden talents'. If you deprive kids early on from discovering their 'calling' then it's too late they decide to pursue their (athletic) dreams later in life. That was the case for poor Sean Connery, for example, when he decided to be a professional soccer (football) player as he approached his mid-twenties. It was too late, and as a result, a friend advised him to pursue an acting career instead. See how tragic things can turn out if we don't intervene early in kids' lives?

And who says schools are about learning? They aren't. They are about schooling. (It was Mark Twain who said: "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education") Schools are organizations that were built for teachers not students.. and then, as is the case with every organization built since and before the days of Frankenstein, they tend to have a life of their own. Tough luck trying to curb their growth let alone reduce their size.

I think in the long run, the ideal solution is a cross between home schooling and regular schooling. Maybe a one day per week school day. That makes way for five times the capacity of current schools as well retain their social cohesive value. Again, tough luck changing anything major anytime soon. Just small bites.. little nibbles on the edges.. otherwise the monster will wake up and start screaming.

That all being said, I still am a firm believer that the iPad will have a great impact on education, amongst other things that is. That's my two cents, or adjusting for inflation: $1.43

Julie D said...

What can I say that you didn't already? You know I agree with everything you say! LOL

Thanks for the birthday wishes!!!

The Vegas Flea said...

Yeah, just what the world needs - more overweight, selfish dumb kids! lol