Before retiring, our former PE teacher left our school with a program that emphasized fitness over competition in sports, and when I read this article, it was yet another thing that our school does that is validating. Not only do we have a traditional PE program, but also a fitness program, and the richness of the two really build a life long positive attitude towards exercise.
When listening to Yong Zhao speak this weekend about test scores and achievement gaps, he put it very plainly. If you spend more time doing something like math (or drinking beer), it’s obvious you will be able to achieve higher test scores or drink more beer. Will that make you a more balanced person though?
Because of programs like No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top (and possibly our weak economy) many schools are getting rid of recess, PE, Art, Music, and other specialist subjects so that they can have more hours of math and language instruction. If we do succeed as a nation who can all ace calculus, we will lack the diversity and creativity that has made this country what it is today.
That article talks about a school that uses fresh methods to keep kids active. It may not seem as fresh at our school, but at the time, though it made sense, it was a risk. Without risks, schools don’t move forward. However, those risks may include some failures here and there. Being able to acknowledge those and learn from them isn’t necessarily easy.
With our new school building, we are taking a lot of risks. Greening our curriculum through teaching about sustainability, adding a school garden curriculum, focusing on how to ensure the students’ well-being through a robust social and emotional curriculum, and looking at gaps in our own traditional curriculum are all risks. But as we learn and grow, the rewards are great.