Mind and body are intrinsically part of one system. How we must wish that this fact had been drilled in to the heads of the industrial-mindsetted perpetrators of today’s education systems. They may have been ignorant and didn’t have data and information available to them. Today’s generation of educators have no such excuses and yet all too often we see a failure to acknowledge the significance and importance of physical aspects of educational activity alongside the mental and academic studies.
Here’s an article I came across a little while ago from MSN Health Today (click on the link) that highlights the results of a study in the US that found a clear and significant correlation between academic performance and level of fitness. To me, such evidence, makes it unquestionable that a decent amount of high quality physical exercise must be given its due importance in the weekly timetable of all schools.
I stress on the quality. Being given a football and 30 minutes to run around with it is a poor substitute for most children for high quality PE. Firstly, the actual amount of concerted effort put out by each child in such circumstances is quite modest. Secondly, it doesn’t even prepare them well for building competency in football. Instead, it reinforces a belief that football ability is innate – my classmate is lucky and has it, I don’t. Along the way, even the child with the innate headstart can be assured ofpicking up enough bad habits that will probably make it very unlikely that he’ll ever really fulfill his potential on a football field.
Here in India we’re plagued by a lack of understanding or interest in physical education on the part of most school heads, a lack of professional training and development for PE teachers (nearly all of whom refuse to see themselves as anything other than sports coaches) and a host of unhealthy influences on children about what it means to be physically active or why they should pursue a physical activity.
I wish I had never had all those experiences when I have heard supposedly intelligent and educated people standing on a stage telling children and their parents that it’s good if they pursue a sport because that way they might get rich!! I don’t get too excited about whether a handful might get rich. I do get very disturbed at the potential numbers who will suffer physical and health problems at relatively young ages – thereby ensuring that their fine academic educations don’t bear the fruit they should have done. I fear the best chances of getting rich really will lie with the doctors who will reap the benefits of their unfit young bodies breaking down.
Maybe, just maybe, the realization that a fit body can enhance a child’s academic chances will lead to the desired attitudinal changes and proper, effective support to physical education. We can but hope.