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December 2009/January 2010 | Volume 67 | Number 4
Health and Learning
Stewart G. Trost and Hans van der Mars
Eliminate physical education to increase time for reading and math, the theory goes, and achievement will rise. But the evidence says otherwise.
Thinking of cutting physical education? Think again. Even as we bemoan children's sedentary lifestyles, we often sacrifice school-based physical education in the name of providing more time for academics. In 2006, only 3.8 percent of elementary schools, 7.9 percent of middle schools, and 2.1 percent of high schools offered students daily physical education or its equivalent for the entire school year (Lee, Burgeson, Fulton, & Spain, 2007).
We believe this marked reduction in school-based physical activity risks students' health and can't be justified on educational or ethical grounds. We'll get to the educational grounds in a moment. As to ethical reasons for keeping physical activity part of our young people's school days, consider the fact that childhood obesity is now one of the most serious health issues facing U.S. children (Ogden et al., 2006).
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Copyright © 2009 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
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