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One course that you can probably find on any random extinction list of courses, right after home economics, is physical education. It's no wonder that its value has become lower in current society. Everyone has an idea about why physical education came into existence as an actual course and the audacity that it is a course you actually have to take and pass. Most of these critics are way off base in their summations that are usually wholly negative, citing P.E. as a way to torture kids and give regular teachers extra time off during the workday. Deplorably, many cannot see how physical education objectives (K-6) are written, simple and plain, to do everything to support other courses on the roster.
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Fitness: Learning About Physical Well-Being and Health
An obvious purpose of physical education falls into the aspect of fitness. Any ex-student of P.E. can recall the regimes handed down by the instructor to build endurance, strengthen muscle, improve flexibility, and most importantly, to get the heart rate up and pumping, all of which stress the grandiosity of general good health. Different units of study carry through to each semester to teach students about various sports including volleyball, gymnastics, and basketball. Examples of requirements include:
- Build and sustain cardiovascular rate for several minutes at a time.
- Stretch before exercise.
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Motor Skills: Physical Development and Growth
Many of us have good motor skills but, throughout the stages of development, skills may weaken. That is why there is so much kicking, throwing and running in physical education. No, it is not thrown in there to see if you will make it through to the end without the need for a stretcher to carry you out. True, some people are just better in P.E. than others, but others still get a lot of their time in the class. Students with fine and gross motor skill issues will be assigned adaptive physical education class to target very specific areas of function. The teacher must follow a goal plan to allow the student to work on the usual skills but with modifications. There is a history of inclusion for those who are disabled or challenged.
Here is an example:
The wheelchair-bound student with muscular dystrophy, instead of running around the gym to complete laps, will work with another student on tossing a soft ball back and forth in a small area between them.
Examples of motor skills include:
- Dribbles a ball
- Understands how to move using multiple locomotor skills
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Attending a class every day has little value if you do not know the history behind it. Students find out how long physical education has been in use and in which situations, and what activities took place in classes from the past. Knowing the safety rules, why they are necessary, techniques to play games, and adopting game play is another part of this objective of physical education. Examples include:
- Follow safety procedures from each activity
- Follow instructions
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Social: Cultural Diversity and Understanding
You cannot avoid socializing at some level regardless of what type of school or program you join. The social characteristic of physical education aims to bring the student body together through structured exercise and play. Children sometimes struggle with sportsmanship, identifying as a team unit, and developing self-discipline and control. P.E. can give this to a child in a way that he cannot receive in sedentary classes. Examples include:
- Work in groups and teams regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity of members
- Mindful of the feelings of others and their safety
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Physical education is the place where some of the best athletes realize that they have a gift. They will at some point make up their mind whether to use it for advancement in life. These students have a higher appreciation of the previous objectives of physical education and involve it in everything they do. Students who are less inclined toward physical exercise also start to distinguish for themselves their own calling separate from activities that test them physically. Examples include:
- Name one's own areas of improvement or lack thereof
- Set personal goals and objectives for improvement
- Finds other interests outside of physical education
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Staying Connected to P.E.
As physical education becomes a course of the past, connecting students to behaviors that get them up and actually moving is a great and significant reason to keep it around. Without P.E. or some type of exercise program in place for regular and routine work, the health of students will decline, they will miss out on social objectives of the class, and they will never get the chance to treasure their favorite sport, let alone recognize their individual abilities.
For more information on the importance of physical education, read Why Physical Education Is Important.