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Mandatory Physical Education in Schools

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Mandatory Physical Education In Schools

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Our lifestyles are changing and we are suffering. Children’s lifestyles are becoming more and more sedentary. Many children are suffering from the lack of physical activity on a global scale, around 67% of children are not active to a healthy lifestyle (PHIT America). In the USA, 48% of all high school students have no access to physical education (PHIT). Instead, children are spending most of their time indoors and on their technology. A study conducted by Kaiser foundations, an American organization focusing on major healthcare issues in the US, showed that on average children between the ages of 8 to 18 spend 7 hours and 38 minutes a day on digital media (KFF). 7 hours and 38 minutes without counting the hours children spend at school doing their work. A healthy lifestyle should be implemented at an early age, this could be driven by the school and education. However, physical education is limited as schools don’t provide specific time and resources. Only 3 states require the recommended physical activity time in high school, Utah, Minnesota, and West Virginia (Shapeamerica). Not only are students not active they are eating a lot of fast food. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that in 2011- 2012, 34.3% of all children and adolescents in the US aged 2–19 consumed fast food on a given day (CDC). These issues of lack of exercise and rising obesity are of global significance because the world’s population lives in countries where obesity kills more people than underweight people, obesity is preventable (WHO).

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The causes of lack of physical education are simple. The main cause is prioritizing academic performance over physical education. Schools are lacking in physical education due to low academic scores. Other schools have to deal with low-scoring tests in classes and think that they should (Santos). Another cause is, in the UK, schools are having to sell their playing fields due to low cash. As the government has cut their education funding, schools have to sell their fields and sports facilities to gain some money for their students’ education(Busby). When students stay in classes for long periods of time they start to stress, get tired, and start to not do work and not function well. Instead, physical education is a chance for students to blow off some heat and just have a move around. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune the state of Illinois says that “A healthy, physically active student is more likely to be alert and successful in academic endeavors, Many health organizations recommend that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to help prevent childhood obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.” (Rado).

The consequences of this issue are: students all over the globe are spending an increasingly time sitting down in class doing school work rather than being outside and moving around getting exercise. Also, academic levels are rising and they are becoming “more and more challenging,” said Dr. Dan Nelson of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center(Korte). Nervous breakdowns, panic attacks, burnouts, and depression are some of the problems not only teens but kids are facing. These students are being outputted from a healthy balanced lifestyle, being forced to study more. A study showed that “Students described that schoolwork, grades, and college admissions constituted their greatest sources of stress,”(Ossola). In the UK suicide is among the biggest problems, “An investigation into 130 suicides in people under 20 has revealed bereavement, physical illness, school pressures, and bullying were among the themes associated with their deaths”(Harley). Should schools lower their standards? After all, they are not adults yet, why should they not be allowed to have time to relax and get their minds off school – physical education provides just that.

Globally, many schools around the world do mandate the subject of physical education throughout primary to high schools, like Singapore they too value it as a benefit rather than a disruption to school that will help kids build a balanced life after graduation. In the USA, The National Fitness Foundation, a non-profit organization endorsed by President Obama in 2010 committed to advocating fitness and health on a global scale, said that “Physical education is proven to be the most evidenced-based solution to get students active today and prepared for a lifetime of health & fitness (Fitness).” In the USA PE for the majority of the states except for Arizona, Minnesota, and some other states that only require health class instead of PE, is one of the requirements needed for obtaining a high school diploma/graduation(High School Graduation Requirements).

At the same time, many states in the USA are struggling to meet the PE requirements due to a lack of money and space needed (Santos). Adding on to this New York Times article, the Chicago Tribune interviewed Heather Bennett, a spokeswoman for Round Lake Community Unit School District 116 about the challenges on providing PE daily, Heather stated “the reality for the Lake County district struggling with low test scores and other challenges (Rado)”. She also added, “ inadequate facilities” and implying it would take up space that could be used for academics, due to the “overpopulation” in schools today (Rado). I can easily understand how this could be the case for many schools around the globe as to why PE is no mandate in the high school curriculum, this seems to apply to my international school here as to why we don’t have PE in the upper secondary.

Living in Singapore and looking at some of the local perspectives, here. Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) Report in 2014, too value PE into the upper secondary, however often dropped by schools for pre-college courses (MOE). One of MOE’s academic changes is the requirement of PE and the outdoors programs for all pre-university students (TheAsianParent). Their mission statement is to, “Develop students’ motor and games skills and equip them with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to pursue and enjoy a physically active and healthy lifestyle”(MOE). Also according to Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is responsible for setting educational policies in Singapore, he believes that “students who are taught skills, knowledge, and attitudes to be comfortable in the outdoors would engage in higher levels of physical activity as adults” (Lee).

My personal perspective on this issue is that many schools don’t value the importance of physical education at the highest level. Mostly all schools provide physical activities of some sort in primary school, but as the students start to reach middle and high school they are left with the decision to do physical education or not to. As many students are becoming lazier and lazier, many of them don’t choose to take physical education as one of their classes or they think that they should focus more on other classes like maths and English. However, I think that physical activities should be compulsory for all students no matter the age to have them keep a healthy lifestyle and to stay active all the time.

There are many solutions to the importance of physical education in schools. Some of the solutions are; in the USA most high schools require a minimum amount of physical education to later obtain a diploma in their four years of high school(High School Graduation Requirements). By the government implementing this rule, students would have no choice but to take a physical education class every semester. This would also make the students realize how important it is to have a healthy lifestyle as they would need to pass that class to obtain their diploma. Not every family is as fortunate as others, but their sons and daughters are fortunate enough to have the chance to go to a college for a massive discount or potentially or for free. Every year the NCAA awards more than 150,000 students a full scholarship to the best schools in the nation(NCAA). The NCAA spends annually the price of 2.9 billion dollars to pay for students’ education. This is saying that students have the chance to go to school for free. Scholarships like this in high schools would attract many students to play sports and to stay healthy as they could go to school for free and gain massive benefits from this. Not all schools have amazing facilities for students to use. However, schools can use lunch breaks to advocate physical activities. For example, they could use classrooms to host activities or push the learners to stay outside and play around.

After doing my research and looking at all of the different perspectives, I still feel like physical education should be a compulsory subject in all schools in the world. Nonetheless, I now understand why may not be possible in every school. For example, I agree with Heather Bennett on how hard it is to include physical education in school while facing very low tests scores(Rado). As well as the New York Times article as some schools doesn’t have the money and space to provide such facilities for their students(Santos). I also agree with the idea of schools letting students study a wide variety of subjects. As a result of my research, I have learned many amazing facts on how concerning this problem has become over the years and how physical inactivity can have a massive effect on the human body, in school and outside of school. During my research, I feel like I haven’t used a variety of national sources but mainly news articles written in the USA. Comparing Singapore and American physical education facts and data really helped me understand how different places in the world treat this case differently. I feel like next time I should ask some physical education teachers at my school and other schools in Singapore to see what their opinions are and if they think that physical education should be compulsory or not. In conclusion, I believe that all schools should have physical education as a compulsory subject like math and how schools should have sports activities in their curriculum.

I used the Ministry of Education in Singapore as one of my sources because it is very reliable. It is very reliable because the MOE is part of the government and its mission is to try to meet the needs of the Nation and the individuals in all schools. This makes it an ideal source to use their facts and opinions to further discuss my topic. I also used news articles from the USA like the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune as they are very reputable sources in America. These sources were very useful as they helped with different perspectives and to show me how the USA is dealing with this issue.  

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