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Our children need daily exercise
The Ministry of Health reported that one out of every eight children in T&T is overweight or obese and the number is increasing. Overweight and obesity children are at risk for a number of conditions: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, early heart disease, diabetes, bone problems, skin conditions such as heat rash, fungal infections, and acne. The causes of obesity are complex and include genetic, biological, behavorial and cultural factors. Basically, obesity occurs when a person eats more calories than the body burns up. Children need to exercise daily in the face of debilitating degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, which is rampant among our children? Physical education activities which can stem this outbreak are not practiced in T&T schools even as a preventative measure. Physical Education activities are recognized and practice all over the world. Why not here! One may argue that children play soccer, cricket, and netball. This is true! How many participate? If this is in a school with a population of 700 students. You have a total of 29 students performing at any one time. Do the math. One may argue in defense of physical education as a written examination at CXC level.
However, what are the criteria for assessment? It is not my intention to question the process or the rubrics of the process but to throw light on the fact that we are preaching but not practicing physical education activities. It could be argued that one should know the rules of sports and games to pass this examination, but not be able to play at the fundament level of the game or sport or activity. You take chemistry or physics at CXC level I expect you to be proficient in a practical at this level. The majority of students who sit the physical examination examination score a one. You do not have to participate in physical activities but, just study the theory for the examination -theory of individual activity, mass group activity, duel group activity. Is there a practical or is there another way to evaluate? Checklists, anecdotal records, portfolios, work samples, documented conversations with students, and interest inventories to name a few. These tools can be easily employed in the classroom to demonstrate growth or areas of needed assistance. Yet, they aren't as widely used in the classroom despite the insight they could provide. Why? Because these forms of assessment are hard to quantify on top of requiring much more work from teachers. The lack of physical activity in a child’s’ life leads to catastrophic complications. Who is to be held responsible or accountable for this inaction? Parents, teachers, principals, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the syllabus?
There is a five-year syllabus for physical education, yet form three students take the CXC examination and Ace it. Over 91 per cent of students who sit the exam are successful while 40-45 per cent are successful at English and Math. How come! How does grading relate to the purpose of assessment? Are we so caught up in assigning numbers to rate our students that we forget the purpose of evaluating students? What then is the purpose of assessment in this process? Most teachers with experience are able to give a full report of what their student’s strengths and weaknesses are at any given moment. Are they struggling with writing, reading, and math? Are they creative in an artistic sense? Do they take their time or rush projects? Do they work well together? Are they healthy?
(To be continued next Friday)
New York City Public
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