Fitness, physical activity, and exercise are things that we all here about in today society. There are fitness workout shows on television, new diets popping up, new pills; new workout exercises that make you look great in “just two weeks”. This is because in American we are out of shape and just plain ole fat. Adults and children alike are fat. Or babies are fat. You can watch television shows that talk about how this person weight 500 pounds or this child weights 300 pounds. I for one am fat and out of my old playing days shape.
America is on a slippery slope and it looks like there is no end in sight of just how big we are going to get. America is the most overweight country in the entire world. This is because we live a very fast paced lifestyle. We live in a world of instance access and gratification. We want things fast and we can not wait for the next thing to consume. Kids now have video games, cable television, computers, and the internet at their finger tips. Why would you ever go outside to play, if you want to play hide and seek, or any sport, you can just plug in your Playstation and play it right now.
Technology and the fast pace of society has cause many to become overweight and couple that with no sleep and stress. The one thing that could happen is fat to store and we become more and more unhealthy. American has not always been unhealthy like we are today. We used to be a society of hard workers that ate good meals together as a family. Children used to play outside with other children all day and would not drink soda and eat all the candy that they eat today. But, slowly and surely we have gotten away from our old school mentality of hard work and working outside.
But, you can see that we are trying to learn from other countries and develop new ideas into a workable solution for our society. We still have a ton to improve upon and a long way to go before we catch up with where some countries are and where we should be if we did not devalue physical education. No matter what we try to do it seems that physical activity has been pushed aside in today’s fast paced society for more important things and a whole new different lifestyle (Kerner, 2005, p. 26-29).
If you look back in time to ancient society, you see that the Greeks and Romans put an emphasis on physical activity. Men were in shape by choice or not. Some people were forced to be physically active because of the manual labor they were forced to endure but others were in classes that developed the mind and body in one. Young men were also forced to join the army at the age of 18. This was an honor and soldiers were looked up to and to become a member of society, young men had to be in the army first.
Also, you had the gladiators that fought for the amusement of the crowds. They worked out daily not for fun, but for survival. Then came the Olympics. Physical ability came to be looked at in a matter of honor and respect. The better shape you were in, and the better you preformed in the games, the more honor and respect you received. So, even back in the history of the world we see that people liked to see men that were in good physical shape compete in events. This is very similar to the Olympics and other sporting events that we use today as entertainment.
You can see in art like the sculpture of “Atlas” holding the world or “David” that being in good physical shape like they were portrayed in these works of art, that people see a good toned body as a work of art. Even today, we like to see men and women that are in good physical shape in pictures and on television. As the time moved forward from the Greeks and Romans, we see art portraying men’s finely toned body as a work of art. The body has always been seen as a work of art, but now not just any body was an art work, only those that were toned and in good physical condition.
This even went to children as “John Locke believed that children’s physical needs were more important than their academic needs” (Cazer, Miller, 2000, p. 44). This is different that what most people thought, because the mind was the key, but they also know that to unlock the mind and have full control of oneself, the body must be taught as well. As we look at what countries have influenced our view on physical education we must first look at the Germans. The Germans brought over their schools that taught physical education through gymnastics.
Gymnastics has been around for a very long time, so this seems like an obvious place to start when you are teaching people to become and stay active. One of the main figures in the German movement of physical education was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau was an innovator in American society when it came to physical education. Rousseau also believed that children were the key to changing a society and also children should not look so grown up with their clothing. Children should wear clothing that showed that they were young and active and their clothing should reflect that.
Rousseau also knew that children must wear different clothing when they were in his gymnastic practices. Another innovator or as he is known the “Godfather” of physical education, Johann GutsMuths, promoted that the human mind increased its ability with the increase of physical activity (Cazers, Miller, 2000, p. 45). Now we all know that this is in fact very true. I feel refresh and aware whenever I have worked out in the mornings before work and school. GutsMuths was well ahead of his time, even when he faced adversity he pushed thou and is a vital part of the American physical education history.
Not to leave any country out America also got different was and techniques of teaching physical education from the Swedish, Danish, and now we are trying to continue to learn from other countries. While all of this new innovation was going on only men and boys were allowed to participate in physical education. Many educated people thought that women and girls could not handle the riggers of physical activity. This was the norm until about thirty to forty years ago when women were allowed to start participating in physical education and then sports. Even way back in
history dating back to the Greeks and Romans, women were looked upon as lesser being and not able to handle activity. Many people thought that women, if engaged in to much activity would bust their blood vessels. Everything that men did women were not allowed to do, from jobs, some schools, and even physical activity. Gyms and schools where gymnastics and other forms of physical activities were being taught, women were not allowed. But, slowly and surely that has began to change. Women were able to start doing some things that males were doing, but at a slower and controlled pace.
Women were now allowed to take part in gymnastics and even collegiate sports. But, this came forty-four years after the first collegiate man sport was played. The main reason for all of this change is something called Title IX. Title IX was passed in 1972. Title IX gives women, men, and anyone from all regions, races, and sex a fair playing field when it comes to being treated fairly. Title IX prevents educational programs who receive federal grants and funds from discrimination based on anything listed above. This act has caused a rise in sports teams at schools from around two to an all time high of 8.
12 team per school (Acosta, Carpenter, 2000, p. 142). A recent study that lasted over a fourteen year span of a certain group of seven hundred fifty colleges it is discovered that the number of female athletes has risen 48. 9 percent and the number of female teams has risen 25. 6 percent in that time period (Lipka, 2007, p. 36). This can all be accredited back to the passing of Title IX. Colleges, high school, and middle schools are increasing female sports we have a fast growth in the female athlete and the need of more professional teams.
College, high school, and middle school female teams are supported by a good fan base, but some to the same female processional team, like the WNBA are not getting the support they need to grow and develop. Title IX is not just used for sports. It can be applied any where a certain sex is being discriminated against. For example a school that is government funded can not break up classes based solely if a student is a male of female (Shimon, 2005, p. 6-7). There for teachers and coaches alike can not discriminate against students or student athletes because they are male or female.
Although most people feel that Title IX is just for women, this is not true. Yes, there are more cases where Title IX has helped females, but this is because males have always been giving an upper hand in physical education and school. But, there are cases like McCormick v. The School District of Mamaroneck, shows us that the local female soccer team wanted the opportunity to play their soccer season in a different semester, but the male soccer team would not be granted the same opportunity and the courts ruled in favor of the male team because both sexes must be given the some opportunities no matter what (BeMiller, 2005, p.
12-14). But, there are other victories for male sports as well; they are just fewer then the opportunities that have been given to females because they started with nothing and have been fighting for equal rights every since Greek and Roman times. But, as mentioned earlier no matter what things educators have done to help our physical activity to increase and give equal treatment, it is fact that more children and females are fatter than ever. Obesity is an epidemic right now in this country.
And, signs show us that it is only going to increase, with no end or fix in sight. Obese children grow up to hate physical education and thus will continue to be obese adults. Then their children will become obese and the vicious cycle will only continue. Physical educators must find a way to reach these obese children in school and get them to learn the positives of physical activity for life and maybe they will change their ways and lose weight and become healthier. Once, that happens you have a better chance to decrease the next generations children from being so obese.
Many experts believe that the reason it is so hard to reach the obese children is because they do not believe in themselves and their abilities, because they have probably been picked on and embarrassed while doing physical activity. Mager (1992) says it best “those who believe in their ability to perform in a given area will be more likely to strive harder to succeed” (p. 32) This is very true, if physical educators can get obese children moving in physical activity that they can do with other students and succeed in it, then you have given that obese child some confidence and now they will want to participate in other
physical activities that they may feel they can do it and develop good physical active habits that could last a life time. But, you also have to straddle a thin line with female students because some females do not want to be too involved in sports or too fit because they do not want to be accused of being lesbian, especially in college (Waldron, 2007, p. 4). Future Trends The burden of physical education and prevention of the spread of obesity is not just the educators alone.
Malone (2003) states “Children’s school behavior is related to children’s home behavior” (p. 88) So, we see that it is the parents fault as well and we need to try to do a very good job of reaching the children now, so that the next generation will have parents that want their children to be healthy and push physical education. But, Carey (1983) says that “Their (children) ways of doing and thinking have an integrity, a logic of its own, that is mostly well suited to their needs and possibilities” (p.
3) So, as you see we need physical educators that can really push physical activity and are enthused and are full of energy and fun to be around. I know that physical educators that I have had helped my shape my view of physical education and physical activity and thus, I have been sort of branded with their views. Green (2000) says “the way teachers thought about PE had been shaped by their past experiences” (p. 127). The future of physical education is up to each and everyone of us, educator or parent. We must get our and other children involved in physical activity.
“Inclusion is about embracing all students, making a commitment to do whatever it takes to create meaningful opportunities for learning and to provide a community of learning where all student have an inalienable right to belong” (Rizzo, Tripp, Webster, 2007, p. 33) As educators we need to find ways to get maximum participation and get the most of the time we have students. Regardless of mental or physical states we must be able to incorporate those students in things we do. Not always can we reach everyone, because some people do not want to be reached and then we do not need to waste time on those lost people.
But as Houston-Wilson and Lieberman (1999) state “physical education is required by law regardless of a student’s ability level” (p. 130) We need to do every thing possible for the inclusion students to feel comfortable and want to participate. Educators need to adapt and change their ways of thinking and increase the rate of success reaching out and helping students, because inclusion students want to be reached, we could learn from them because they have been adapting their whole life (Sherrill, 2004, p. 20-24).
A good approach to this is the instructional approach, because with this approach we maybe could increase the rate of success with the inclusive students by almost creating a sort of inclusive environment (James, Lieberman, Ludwa, 2004, p. 37). In today’s society we need to do as much as we can to help these people feel apart and the same. In many ways they are, and if we create an inclusive environment we can help that even more. Ego, Woodard, and Raymond (1992) state “Demanding inclusion in our classrooms, parks, and leisure service agencies is no longer a courtesy buy a necessity” (p. 30).
Also, we need to help relieve the stress that diverse people feel in the physical education classroom and help them feel that they can do everything that we and every other student can do, but just in a different way. Smith (1992) says “diverse people come in all sizes, ages, and races. Most have activity needs and stress-related problems” (p. 7-8) As I talked about earlier obesity is a major problem and need to address it before it gets out of hand. As a fat person I understand the stress and hardships that come along with it. I was always an active kid and played sports, worked out, and ran. But, I was still a big boy.
I see how some physical educators treat obese kids and it makes me sick. If you have never been fat and lived it, then do not ever try to “help” by telling me what to do. “Eat right and exercise” and you will be fit and toned, but this is not always the case. I do not know the answers but, what ever we are doing now is not working. Corbin and Masurier (2006) state “among the American adult population, 66 percent are overweight and 32 are obese…19 percent of children and 17 percent of adolescent are overweight, and 37 percent of children and 34 percent of teens are either overweight or at risk of being overweight ” (p. 44-53).
Why are we having all of the overweight problems in America? Well the simple answer is technology. Young people have so much at their fingertips and can stay inside and not do anything outside these days. We need to keep people informed and educated on why there is an obesity problem and things they can do to help decrease it (Doolittle, 2007, p. 7-9). I do not see a solution in sight and the problem is only going to grow and grow with every day and year. Schools need to provide adequate space and equipment to their students, and also encourage students to become active in sports on campus or with clubs (Hastie, 2007, p. 20-23).
What ever we do we need to be patient, enthused, fun, and positive on everything we teach as educators. We also need to inform parents of what they can do to help themselves and help their children. We are dealing with an epidemic and we need to find a way to improve the situation that we are facing. There is not a quick fix, or just one thing that we can do to improve the lives of our population. If we can reach our youth right now then maybe we can help our future adult population and thus help our future youth. References Acosta, Vivian, Carpenter, Linda. (2000).
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