Monday, January 30, 2006

Sport and skiving

Apparently NZ primary schoolkids are going to have a compulsory hour's sport each day. That is, I think, around 25% of available teaching time.

I have numerous objections to this:
- Most kids get plenty of exercise without formal sport. The main reason some become obese is excess calorie input, not insufficient exercise.
- School sports just put most of the less athletically inclined kids off exercise. I hated sport. From the end of 5th year to about age 25 I took very little exercise (beyond riding a bike for the year until I got my first motorbike). I went back to exercising when (1) my lifelong struggle with porkiness started and (2) there were things like skiing and mountain biking that I actually *wanted* to do.
- Very few kids will make any sort of living at sport, and they're mostly deluding themselves if they think they can. School is supposed to train children for life - basically sport isn't going to be a necessary part of this. NZ in twenty years time won't have too many good jobs for fit, thick adults.
- PE stresses physical strength and conformity (that's why the military is so keen on it). Violence is a major problem both schools and for society outside- how does emphasising the physical help with that?

Strikes me this is another attempt to appeal to the braindead vote.


Apathy Jack said...

I like PE. I mean, I hated it when I was a kid (and I was thin when I was a kid, and considerably fitter than I am now), but, teaching at a low decile school where a lot of the kids' self-esteem and social training comes from sports, I think it's great.

However, I would really hate to lose any of the time I have to teach them to read to more sports. Rugby is an important social tool for these kids, but they already know how to play - they don't know how to read. And this is after they've gone through primary, so I don't think that taking more time away from literacy and numeracy in primary is going to help any.

If you want to combat obesity, don't sell coke from the tuck shop, and encourage parents to give their kids a sandwich for lunch instead of a five dollar note.

Tom said...

Another way to combat obesity would be to ban SUVs within a 1km radius of schools. That way, parents wouldn't be able to drop their chubby little darlings right at the school gate.

There seems to be a limited mindset in NZ (probably due to being a sports-mad culture) that "exercise" = "competitive sports". What about dance, yoga, riding a bike or just going for a walk? In a less car-dependent culture, a moderate amount of exercise would be a normal part of life, not something for which you have to set aside time.