School Gym Class- Is It Shaming or Teaching?

“Today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity in children more than tripled from 1971 to 2011…” -American Heart Association.

“Only one in three children are physically active every day.”

Ok, I get it. But how about:

“13 percent of children ages 8 to 15 have a diagnosable mental disorder.”

“71% of girls with low self-esteem feel their appearance does not measure up.”

There’s a lot of hype in schools about bullying, body shaming and the right to choose a gender. There’s laws being made, schools being forced to make appropriate bathrooms, appropriate lunch menus, signs posted about how bullying is wrong, girls being told what they can and cannot wear to school, school days being allocated to raise awareness of LBGT…

Please tell me then how gym class has been missed in all of this. Could gym class be contributing?

In elementary school, the kids don’t change their clothes, sometimes they don’t even change their shoes if they’ve forgotten them. Gym class continues either way. They do a wide range of activities but typically the kids don’t mind gym. It’s when they enter Middle School that it seems to become a problem.

Some kids love gym. MOST do not. Why? Why is it so utterly uncomfortable for the vast majority of the kids? Because we all know what happens in gym. We’ve all been there.

Here’s how it goes, if some have forgotten:

First off, there is a wide range of kids we’re talking about here. We’ve got children, pre-pubescents, adolescents and well developed women and men all in the same grade when we look at Middle School.

We’ve also got a wide range of abilities. There’s athletic kids, there are sickly kids, there are lazy kids, there are over weight kids…

So lets start gym class then:

They force all of these vast array of kids into a locker room to undress in front of each other. Out of curiosity, do you undress in front of your coworkers? That would be awkward, no? But by  all means, lets throw a bunch of insecure, bullied, immature kids into a cold concrete room to expose themselves to each other and see how that goes…

Then, after they’ve all seen each others undergarments, body shapes, smelled each other… They make them do “activities” together as a team while co-ed.  Fun, right?

Schools still have swimming as part of these mandatory “activities”. So now they must wear next to nothing while doing “activities” as well. Co-ed. They get to see their peers changing (and some not changing) bodies and compare themselves to each other (hey, there’s no way to stop that). Let’s not forget that a lot of these girls are starting to get their periods. How will they be able to participate in swim?

I’ll tell you what happens here: They are shamed for being a female.

This happened to my daughter. She sat out but was instructed to write a paragraph about how she can avoid missing swim class next time. How she can….? What? Avoid being a female?! She’s 13! What option is there? A tampon? Well what if she doesn’t want to or is unable to wear a tampon? Isn’t her body her choice? That’s what everyone says, right? But this, this doesn’t count…

Outside of the “activities”, They weigh them, measure them, calculate their abilities, and then put them into categories. All in front of their peers that they see and sit next to every day.

You can’t compare apples to oranges, right? Well that is exactly what Middle School kids are, folks! How can you possibly say that this athletic kid over here that has already gone through puberty is on any where near the same level as this other kid who still looks 8 and has Asthma?

I understand the push for “healthy” kids, but at what cost? Gym class could seriously be the root of a lot of psychological issues that kids have! They are so sensitive at this age.

How about instead of funding gym classes, they make all city Recreation Dept activities free? That would give plenty of opportunities for families to get their kids active. School days are no place for this awkward attempt at getting kids active. Come on now.



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