A.P. Physical Education

By Hans Piotter

Clang! The weights fell back on the rack. I had just finished my last repetition on the bench press and was now going to move on to working a new muscle group. The cool thing is, this was a class. Known as Weight Training, this class is technically advanced PE, meaning you must have completed two years of P.E. to take the class. Weight Training at Tam has undergone some major improvements in the past couple years, which applied throughout the PE department, could maximize time spent in PE, and increase student interest.

Last year teacher Erin Lawley taught Weight Training but did not enjoy the job because she said it was “babysitting.” When a schedule shift with Mr. Severin popped up because of PE department reformations, Ms. Lawley decided to give up weight training and teach Severin’s PE class instead. This year, all of the PE teachers had an equal split of PE classes, leaving no one to teach weight training. Physics teacher Dave Lapp needed another period to be teaching full time, so he jumped on the opportunity and decided to teach weight training.

Lapp has been weightlifting since he was 13 years old and is well qualified for the job. Lapp says that he “used to be the scrawny and insecure type until beginning to lift weights.” Once he started lifting weights his body become much more fit and muscular, Lapp says he became more confident and was able to come out of his shell. Lapp has wanted to teach weight training for many years, hoping to pass on his passion to other students and maybe help them out of a tough time in their life. Or, he jokingly says, “Maybe I just do the job so I can get paid to work out.”

The old weight training classes used to only spend half of the time in the weight room and the other half at a required physical activity, such as basketball in the gym or frisbee on the field, a system that many disliked. Participants would just sit around and not do anything for the physical activity half of the period because that was not the reason they chose to take the class. It shifted the focus of the class from the weight room. Now that Lapp has taken over, we have warm ups, a workout log to keep track of the repetitions and amount of weight we’re lifting, and stretches afterwards. It is a great environment because participants have a wide range of workout machines and equipment, which allows us to pick what we want to do during the period. We can choose to do arm days or leg days or we can work out whatever muscles we would like. As long as we are working out and getting exercise we are doing everything right. If we have any questions we can ask Mr. Lapp and he will instruct us individually.

If we had P.E. classes with this much choice, a far greater percentage of kids would enjoy taking P.E. and not see it as a waste. Kids could choose what sport they wanted to do for the period. The kids would be enthusiastic about having a choice in what they want to do, this would maximize fitness because the kids would enjoy and get enthusiastic about what they are doing. P.E. classes right now have a schedule and the teacher goes through the numerous activities he or she is supposed to teach. Throughout the year units such as basketball, dodgeball, golf, and football are taught. This can be a waste of time and many kids are not enthusiastic about the activities. If these classes had more choice involved, they could be greatly improved. For example, if students were able to choose an activity, they could train for sports they are doing out of school or they could exercise in a group organized by the teacher. The kids that are on the soccer team together could go train together in a separate area while the majority of the class does a group activity. Other kids that would like to do a separate activity could run it by the teacher and then go do their own activity. There would be more freedom and students would have the option of doing something that is engaging for them. Having this option could be a major improvement to the P.E. department.

Being given the choice to have freedom in P.E. has made me realize that student choice in education is very important. Edweekly.org says that student choice in education is a great way to get more students participating and enthusiastic about what is going on in class. They say that the role of the teacher should be to mentor and assist in a way that he or she seems to be a participant or a co-learner. This means they should not teach throughout the class, but rather should teach when it is needed and let the children make their own discoveries the rest of the time. Student choice in education is a great way to improve the learning that is going on in our classrooms. If this were specifically applied to the P.E. department there would be great changes in participation and enthusiasm.