To many JLBC students, the purpose of middle school PE was unclear. There was a sense that it was simply a “filler.”
There were a lot of memories and comments about middle school being about testing and measurement of fitness and less about instruction. One student commented directly that it was not instructional and focused on kickball and dodgeball.
One student commented that despite them any kickball/dodgeball games, she did learn about track and field events which then got her interested in joining the High School track team.
Comments related to professionalism:
The focus group did not allow comments about individual teachers. However, teaching and teacher quality did emerge. At the middle school level, teachers were seen as far less creative, engaged, and supportive than the elementary teaching experience. Examples include:
a. ” Maybe there was a plan, but it was not delivered. I think it is about the teachers, and I‟ve heard terrible things about the teachers...”
b. The teachers did not instruct us but let us play kickball and dodgeball. They allowed a free for all.
General Comments about Middle School:
1. Parents were concerned that their middle school child did not change for PE. There was recognition that for some students at this age, body odor and sweating prevented the student from wanting to exert in class.
Prominent themes regarding High School Physical Education:
There was some disparity between the parent responses and the student responses regarding high school physical education. In general, the parents seemed to rate the high school experience lower than the students interviewed. A prime example of this disparity is aquatics. Nearly all parents expressed concern regarding this curriculum component, whether their child can test out, whether classes be single-gender, or whether a child afraid of the water could be excused. However, in the student session, not one person brought up the subject of aquatics as either a traumatic or positive experience for them.
Comments related to curriculum:
1. The need for choice was discussed in both focus groups. However, parents seemed to believe that there was no choice in activity and that all students participated in general PE. Students, however, expressed that there are a variety of PE electives to choose from. However, there was agreement that the academic schedule dictated which PE class one could attend. It was a bit of “the role of the dice” rather than associated with what interested the student.
2. Lifetime activities were embraced by the students. (yoga, personal fitness, etc..) The idea of being “forced” to take athletic training due to schedule was unacceptable.