There’s this thing my friend Andrea Haefele says which I love. My paraphrasing is as follows.
We shouldn’t call it ‘gym’ because it implies the wrong paradigm of pedagogy. Would we call math class a ‘room’? Calling physical education ‘gym’ makes it hard to break free of old, tiresome connotations of mean, bellowing, whistle blowing teachers; period cramps; and getting picked last. Stuff that should be relegated to an 80s John Hughes movie.
In my efforts to explain to my students why we again wouldn’t be playing full court games of basketball in phys. ed. this year (it is exclusionary, inequitable, and makes us focus on esoteric rules rather than physical play, development, and exertion), and would, instead, be using a games for understanding model of learning to dribble, shoot, and pass a basketball, I had that moment of lingering doubt which all teachers feel when they’re attempting to swim against the proverbial tide.
Am I just ranting here, I sometimes wonder, imposing a pedagogical discussion on a bunch of kids that just wanna play a game of hoops?
But then I had another moment which made my tummy feel all warm inside, as my son would say. I overheard the following conversation in my classroom:
Student 1: What is it? Gym class?
Student 2: Ya, but don’t call it gym class. It’s physical education.
Student 1: Huh? Wha…?
Student 2: Because, remember what Mr. Lee said? Calling it gym class is like calling science class ‘Room 118’. It doesn’t make any sense and it’s too old school.
At that point, I couldn’t help looking at Student 2 and smiling. I cracked up laughing when she reciprocated by giving me a thumbs up and a wink, like ‘I got your back!’
OK, it’s pretty obvious I’m blogging right now about a child who complied with a dogmatic lecture I once told. It would most certainly be better if we attained the stage where simply doing it superseded saying it. But I admit it was awesome. Let’s not be afraid to concede that it’s sometimes nice to hear our students parrot some of our occasional diatribes.
What about you? Are your students/staff swimming against the tide with you? Have you got any similar stories?