The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

Should physical education be required?

LION staffers debate whether students should be required to take physical education courses at LT.

December 22, 2021

Protest against physical education

Physical Education (PE) class has been one of the most dreaded classes in history for some students. If you are like me, you probably cringe just hearing the word “PE.” We all have horror stories from gym class, whether it be the time you were hit in the face with a volleyball, fitness testing, or running laps around the track until you simply can’t anymore. As someone who is not the biggest fan of gym class, I have never quite understood why it is required for all students. Illinois is one of six states in the U.S. that mandates PE classes in grades K-12. I truly believe there are more effective ways students can be using their time, if they do not have any interest in PE. It should not be a mandatory class for all students. 

To me, it is way more understandable for PE to be required for students in elementary school, middle school, and even in the beginning of high school. I will not discredit gym class for some of the valuable lessons it teaches young students about the importance of exercise and overall physical well-being. As a former athlete myself, I completely recognize the benefits of being physically active and the wonders it can do for your health, both physically and mentally. 

On the other hand, once you have reached junior year, I believe it is an acceptable time for students to have the option of not taking a PE class. We have a lot on our plates, and with college just around the corner, it is more logical to allow us to take classes we have a true interest in. Taking PE may not seem like the biggest sacrifice, but it is. When the time comes to choose classes each year, it is annoying knowing you have to save a spot on your schedule for gym class. Personally, I would much rather be using PE time to take advantage of the various electives LT offers, to prepare for future careers and possible college majors. It is important for us upperclassmen to maximize our time in our final years of high school, and for some of us, PE gets in the way of that. 

It is also worth mentioning the current curriculum of PE class. Throughout my nearly 12 years of being a student in gym class, I couldn’t help but notice how most of what we learn and test on seems redundant. I am not the biggest fan of playing sports in the first place, but having to take written tests on sports like basketball and volleyball is even worse. Why are we making students take a class that is mainly focused on sports, if that is not what they are interested in? Every time I have to take one of these tests, it always seems so pointless. I am constantly thinking of how I could have been using this time to take a class that mattered to me. This brings me to my point of making gym class an elective that is optional for students. There are many students that love sports and would definitely jump at the opportunity to take a class like PE, and that is totally fine; I just don’t understand why it is forced upon everyone. 

Not only do we learn about the technicalities of sports, but we also learn about general health and nutrition in PE. I fully support health being integrated into the PE curriculum, but at the same time,  have found it less effective than it should be. For me, sitting down and watching five minute TED-Ed videos on carbohydrates and protein is not helpful, and I am not able to retain nearly anything. When it comes time to test, I feel unprepared and do not remember much information. In order for the health aspect of PE to be more useful for students, it requires more focus in the curriculum, which it does not seem to have. 

I know that I am not the only one at my school who opposes PE class. Students would be so much happier and successful, if they were able to choose a class that they were passionate and excited about. It is time we stop requiring PE for upperclassmen; it is clear it is no longer beneficial for them. 

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The perks of physical education

Physical education (PE) is dreadful for some, while others idolize the class. PE may not be everyone’s favorite period at LT, but it is an essential part of each student’s day and should continue to be a requirement for graduation. 

The PE curriculum is formulated for everyone to succeed. Students at SC have more guidance when fulfilling their PE credits, since everyone takes the same class as they adjust to the new environment of high school. However, once students transition over to NC, they have much more freedom to choose a physical education class based on their particular interests.

There are a variety of classes available, including Dance Fitness, Adventure Education, Scuba Diving, and Sports Officiating; these courses teach content beyond what the traditional PE classes cover at SC. In addition, LT continues to introduce new classes. The curriculum teaches underclassmen the basic skills needed, and then gives students much more freedom when they move to NC. Mandatory PE throughout all four years also encourages students to stay involved in LT athletics, as they are able to receive athletic study halls during their junior and senior year. 

Most importantly, it gives everyone a chance to participate in physical activity every school day. Students are at school for at least seven hours, and it is not healthy to sit behind a desk for that amount of time; PE gives students the chance to let some of their energy out. Classes at SC can go outside to Bennett Field, and classes at NC can use the soccer fields on Cossitt to get a breath of fresh air when it’s warm. 

Beyond the physical aspect of PE, it is also a time for students to relax and socialize; the required credit in LT students’ schedules forces them to take a break from their rigorous course load. No matter the class level, all students at LT are challenged academically and deserve a break. PE allows students to spend time with their friends doing different activities. 

Physical education at LT also prepares students for the real world; athletics do not just disappear after high school. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, learning essential skills from sports will be a valuable asset for life. PE classes cover sports from golf to football. Students are also taught teamwork, responsibility, and resilience through participation in PE activities. My class just finished our volleyball unit, which was easily my favorite sport we’ve done so far. It was really cool to have friendly competitions against other classes, and see my team’s performance and communication grow stronger. 

It’s important to learn about the body in order to take care of it correctly, which is why nutrition, weight lifting, and muscle groups are incorporated into many classes. PE teachers cover proper form, weight lifting exercises, healthy food options, and the functions of key muscle groups. Similar to learning about different sports skills, techniques learned in high school to keep the body healthy can be used throughout a lifetime.  

Personally, I look forward to PE everyday; I have a fun group of friends, and the content we learn is super engaging. LT does a great job of providing an informative, yet engaging PE curriculum, and continues to create more opportunities for all students to take a PE class they’re passionate about. It’s in the best interest of students for physical education to be required all four years at LT.

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