Friday, February 11, 2011


Really - what happened to plain and simple walking? If they think installing $100,000 worth of gym equipment in a school makes sense, you would think hiring a teacher and making gym class mandatory wouldn't be such a novel idea - this is CRAZY. You wonder why kids are fidgety? Because you cut gym class and don't value exercise.  Hell, you could have two teachers for that price and if you're lucky, they could become coaches too.  Mentors.  It worked for me and I think I've done ok by them.

Now, I'm referring to this article, which I encourage you to read before proceeding:

"The program, which incorporates exercise into students' daily routine, is based on the premise that physical activity helps students improve their concentration and learning skills"

 Really? The 'premise'? This is a new idea?  I think my brain is exploding.

Don't turn kids into a bunch of monkeys on a treadmill like the overstuffed sausages in the corporate gym, getting onto treadmills like lemmings.  Not only will they not care about what they do, they also won't do it well enough to reach this 'prescribed' (baffling we need to prescribe exercise) 60 min a day of moderate to vigorous activity.  I don't know if you've tried reading a book on a treadmill, but you certainly can't do it at a moderate level of activity (however, what passes for moderate, I have no idea...)

If there is no heart to the exercise or sport, there is no purpose and there is no perseverance.  If there are no difficulties or obstacles, there is no satisfaction in overcoming adversity.  Let kids run and chase, be chased, kick a ball, hit something (even another kid if it's in fair play), practice a skill, score a goal, solve problems - be happy.  Get on a treadmill and have this suffice for the alternative?  You're a nutbar if you think that's ok.  

Dodgeball.  At least let them play dodgeball.  Let them experience that wonderfully satisfying 'swanck' of rubbery pain when they hit someone or get hit.  At least in dodgeball there is the humanity of the 'doctor' to come and rescue you - remember, you wanted to be rescued from peril post 'swanck' - you wanted to get back in the game.  Kids wanted to get back in there and fight.  Emotions will lead kids back to activity.  Even if this game is eerily war-simulated (at least to me, getting hit in the field and having a medic save you...).  The only emotions I ever felt on a treadmill were "Please god let me get off this thing as soon as possible".  And I LOVE exercise - more than most people!

It's depressing.  It's maddening.  So many insults on so many levels.  To children, to teachers, to our environment, to our sense of community and the wealth of sport.  Did you not hear the Queen's speech this year?  Even she addressed the benefit of sport!

Even the section of the article where spending some time on a treadmill makes learning "easier" for this child in the interview.  So if things are easier, that's better?  If you have things handed to you, do you really appreciate them?  In reviews of some of the most successful, intelligent and humanitarian people in our world, they often, maybe even always, come from adverse and difficult times.  Why are we always trying to make everything easier?  The most important things in my life were things I didn't think I could achieve because it was too hard - but I tried anyway.

I think I've made my point.  I don't like to rant and I like to see the positive side of things.  I do fear, however, that with complacency that we will accept ideas like this as great and wonderful.  We know what to do, there is no re-inventing the wheel here.  Get kids moving - but not on a treadmill.  Please.

I feel like Rick Mercer, and this is my rant.

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