Letter to the editor
The goal of physical education is to promote healthy lifestyles for students,
now and in the future. Our department wants students to develop proficiency
in a few activities. Proficiency leads to enjoyment, which will likely lead
to a lifestyle that includes fitness.
Physical fitness testing is only one portion of physical education. Assessing fitness with the use of fitness tests is a means to identify students current fitness strengths and weaknesses and to motivate students to strive to improve their fitness scores. The mile run test is an assessment of cardiovascular fitness, the most important component of ones health. Cardiovascular fitness can be achieved through a variety of activities that increase pulse rate. The mile run test is the most efficient and practical way to test for this particular component of fitness.
The Presidents Council on Sport and Fitness has set standards for proficiency in the core fitness tests that directly relate to health. The nine minute mile goal for males and ten minute-thirty second goal for females was not arbitrarily established by the physical education teachers, as implied in the opinion section of the October edition of the Whirlwind, but by a national council. Just as proficiency standards have been set in many academic subjects, standards have also been set for physical fitness.
Very few students do not meet the mile run test. Students who do not meet the standard are usually those who do not run and participate consistently during the six to eight weeks of class time leading up to the test. Students who have asthma or other physical limitations are exempt from the time standard requirement if they present documentation from a physician.
We do not start with the expectation of students running at a nine minute mile pace for boys, nor is that the goal for girls (which was not mentioned in the article). The proficiency standard times are the culminating goal of 6-8 weeks of daily running. There is no grading scale per se associated with the test results; part of a students grade is based upon meeting the time standard or not meeting the time standard. If a student does not meet the time standard, his or her grade is not affected if a second attempt is made. On the second attempt, the student only needs to complete a mile, showing effort by combining walking and running. No awards are given for placing first, second or third as in a track meet; to what rewards and glorification are you referring?
Physical fitness is only one aspect of physical education. Skill acquisition and social development opportunities are others.
Saying those who do not make any effort to get in shape may not benefit from a mandatory physical education class is not any different than saying students who do not make any effort in math, English, science, etc. may not benefit from these mandatory courses. I do not believe individuals do not benefit from their classes, even if they lack interest. To the contrary, the vast majority of students not only find something of interest in their classes but experience the joy of learning and doing their best work.