Should physical education be mandatory in all schools?
- Schools in the United States require variations of classes in English, Social Science, Mathematics, and Science through a 12-year educational system, elementary to secondary school.
- According to a 2016 study, out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, 39 require primary school students to take physical education, 37 for junior highers, and 44 for high school students.
- Shape America states that only six states mandate physical education in every grade level (IL, HI, MA, MS, NY, and VT), while three states require nationally recommended 150-minute weekly exercise.
- The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) assert that “children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.”
While physical education and health are undoubtedly essential areas of life and growth, there are numerous valid reasons why they should not be mandatory in our schools:
First, the US has fallen outside the top 10 in global academic rankings. One significant factor contributing to this is the need for adequate funding for schools. Schools may only have the means to offer some, not all, pupils high-quality physical education lessons because the subject frequently calls for specialized equipment, facilities, and qualified instructors. With this in mind, slots currently reserved for physical education could also be better used to offer students an opportunity to grow academically, as this should be the main focus of primary education.
Furthermore, compulsory physical education lessons might burden some students with physical restrictions or impairments that prevent them from participating in physical education activities. This reality would further alienate an important demographic of the student body. This and other factors can also lead to numerous safety concerns associated with physical education. Considering the woes mentioned above about the current education system, it is often the case that schools don't have policies in place to guarantee the security of all pupils.
Giving physical education a mandatory place in primary school curriculums can also lead to increased and unnecessary stress levels and pressure on some students. If a kid is not naturally athletic or is not interested in team sports, physical education classes may be a source of these negative emotions during an important developmental phase of life.
Physical education is essential to a child's development, alongside other forms of education (such as mental, emotional, and social). Together, these lead to a healthy, well-balanced, and successful adult.
Phys Ed classes have sometimes had a negative perception or effect on students. This is primarily due to a need for more qualified instructors and resources. Such issues led to classes that were often a waste of time for some students and a source of anxiety or even bullying for others.
However, this is not to say that all PE classes are harmful or unnecessary. More modern PE classes at many schools offer a more comprehensive range of activities that are much less of a one-size fits all solution. These provide more activities that suit students' varying interests and needs (like yoga, stretching, individual sports, martial arts, etc.). Every student can find the activity that suits their physical and mental needs or circumstances.
America has some of the highest obesity rates in the world, and many adults do not know how to exercise, stretch, or be in touch with their physical bodies. This greatly strains our medical system and decreases our overall longevity and quality of life.
Instilling proper physical education ideals into these students early on in life will improve their overall health as individuals as well as benefit our society and economy in the long run. We do not need to abolish PE just because some have had bad experiences. Instead, we need to reform it and design a new curriculum that addresses the unique, holistic needs of the students.