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Physical Education

In this article the nature of physical education and the 6 national standards for physical education curriculum are explained. Read this article for more information on physical education and why it is important.

Although Physical Education is usually a separate course from Health in schools, it is an important part of a healthy curriculum. Not only does physical education give students a break from desk work and an opportunity to be active, but it also introduces them to skills and activities that they can build on for the rest of their lives. At a time when many reports are warning about trends towards obesity, we can look to our physical education programs to help guide us to some choices that may help us. To find out more about just what is involved in physical education, keep reading.

Just What is Physical Education?

The content of physical education is guided by the national standards from NASPE, the National Association for Sport & Physical Education with the goal of health throughout one’s life. These are the six standards:

A physically educated person:

Standard 1: demonstrates competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.

From swimming strokes to tennis strokes, from football plays to Tae Kwon Do patterns, many physical activities can be more effective as well as more enjoyable after explicit training in the motions and patterns of motion that are used at the intermediate and expert levels.

Standard 2: demonstrates understanding of movement concepts, principles, strategies, and tactics as they apply to the learning and performance of physical activities.

In any game, sport, or physical activity in which there are choices to be made, a larger understanding of strategies and tactics comes into play. This type of instruction addresses questions like:

  • what kind of pace should I set in the beginning of the race in order to have enough energy left for my final kick?
  • if I think I can make the 3-point shot, should I go for it?
  • how much should I follow my own plan and how much should I take my competitor into account?

and other questions that go beyond the first standard of knowing the moves and patterns.

Standard 3: participates regularly in physical activity.

The knowledge of the first two standards is not valuable unless and until it’s put to use. Not only do our bodies benefit from regular physical activity, but the continual practice of any particular chosen activity, whether running on our own or a team sport, can help improve our abilities in it.

Standard 4: achieves and maintains a health-enhancing level of physical fitness.

This standard addresses the question of how much physical activity is sufficient, but it does so not by setting terms in an amount of time spent, but in reference to the health of the student.

Standard 5: exhibits responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in physical activity settings.

From the spikes on running shoes to the blades on ice skates to the point on the end of the javelin, a number of physical activities involve equipment that must be treated with care to prevent injury to oneself and others. Add to that the built-in potential for injury in contact sports, and one can see that physical activities may provide an environment in which particular care for others is required.

But this standard goes beyond safety: fairness, respect for the rules and for officials such as referees, and the way one chooses to react to one’s own team’s triumphs as well as the opposing team’s successes are elements that shape the experience for everyone else, as well as for oneself.

Standard 6: values physical activity for health, enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and/or social interaction.

It’s one thing to dutifully go to Physical Education class and another to make a personal choice to incorporate physical activity in one’s own life. There’s a lot of room between the couch potato and the professional athlete, and finding one’s own way of enjoying physical activity may lead one to any place between those two extremes.

Whether one meets friends on the weekend for a game of soccer or chooses a bicycle as one’s main mode of transportation for the sake of exercise and the environment or continually challenges oneself through weight-lifting or skis simply for the thrill of it, there are many, many ways in which physical activity can become an essential part of one’s life.