Sunday, May 15, 2016

Phys Ed for College?

By Professor Doom

     Every few years, institutions discuss the course requirements for degrees. 
Invariably, these requirements, at least in terms of credit hours, are “more.” Admin doesn’t really care, as long as the new coursework is very easy (good for retention) and mandatory (good for growth), but most departments take this as an opportunity to ensure their own job security, advancing coursework that is obvious on the face of it to be worthless. Other departments take the opportunity to add coursework to make the degrees more valuable in the marketplace. No departments will let go of the courses that are already mandatory, since that might cost jobs in the department. It’s always a tug of war, as there really is an upper limit to just how many credit hours a student can be expected to take over the course of 4 years.

Student: “I’m taking bowling this semester.”

--I’m serious, legitimate campuses offer bowling courses. I’ve nothing against bowling but why pay thousands of dollars to learn about it? It’s not that complicated a game, honest…it’s why we have leagues for 8 year olds, after all.

     There’s a push to open a whole new mandatory field for our students: physical “education.” Like most people that read, I hated the mandatory phys ed of public school—it was basically on opportunity for the bullies to polish their craft on the sportsball fields, while the thieves honed their skills robbing the lockers as the other students were out getting their mandatory physical “education.”

Student: “I’m taking tennis this semester.”

--the point of these quotes: student already can take physical education courses for college credit as it is. Many do, because it is an easy A. I’ve never heard of a college course on chess, though I consider it a vastly deeper game than tennis and bowling. It’s no surprise, since chess doesn’t sell well…

     Don’t get me wrong, I believe in physical exercise, and it seems the people I see using obesity scooters get younger every year (granted, everyone I see looks younger every year…). While I don’t believe in mandatory public school, I can accept our kids probably should get encouragement to engage in physical activity. The fact is, we already have mandatory physical “education” in our public schools. How can anyone possibly justify forcing it down the throats of our college students? Poorly, as it turns out:


      The above article is so loaded down with fallacies and invalid thinking that I don’t understand how anyone can be swayed. I assure you, the Poo Bahs of higher education will be swayed, but only because the retention rates of college courses on jumping jacks are much higher than courses on chemistry, calculus, or English literature.

Many ASU students wake up before 7 or even 6 a.m. to do so, but this dedication does not come easy. Recently, it has been suggested by many states in the U.S. that there be a physical exercise requirement reinstated for college students, especially at large universities such as ASU. 

     So, the push is on for mandatory physical education as ASU; I’ve covered before how education is the lowest priority at ASU, not that ASU is exceptional in this regard. However, when you point out that students are already exercising, it’s tough to say we need to make it mandatory, right?

According to a study at Oregon State University, all college students in the U.S. were required to take physical education courses or fill exercise requirements in the 1920s, however, this number has fallen to 39 percent, which is the lowest is has ever been in the country. According to the study, in which 354 universities were selected, many educational institutions are cutting courses that offer physical exercise from their programs. With more than 34 percent of adolescents being overweight and 17 percent being obese,

     Yes, in the past, our institutions did have physical education, but this was before mandatory physical education was a thing in the public schools (their grip on the nation wasn’t nearly so strong in the 1920s). As it became clear that the benefits of exercise were already being taught, the higher education system abandoned such mandatory courses, in favor of focusing on scholarly activities. Yes, there are benefits to exercise, but exercise isn’t the critical thing for academic success; the gentle reader is encouraged to consider if Stephen Hawking’s insights are due to all his exploits on sportsball fields, or due to his study of science.

     Pointing out that 34 percent of adolescents are overweight is just smoke: college isn’t for adolescents. The article may as well point out that baby blue whales weigh 3 tons.

    Some would argue that college should teach independence; therefore, students should be able to form healthy habits on their own without this hand-up from the university. This logic is not faulty. However, most won’t realize the merits of exercise until they get a taste of it.

     The article’s ham-fisted attempts to look fair are risible here. Our college students, the vast majority of them, got a hefty taste of forced exercise in the public schools, there’s just no reason to force them to learn how to play tennis or whatever in college. I mean “no reason for the students” here. Obviously, institutions have much to gain by forcing students to “study” tennis, and you can bet tennis teachers will be cheap hires.

Additionally, gym intimidation is a real thing. Many individuals are anxious to partake in exercise because they believe they will look ridiculous doing so in a large room of people. 

     Again, the one-sidedness of the arguments slaps me in the face. Our universities are already loaded down with large rooms full of people; courses with hundreds of students in them are already quite common. I suspect you could easily have a “class” of 10,000 students doing jumping jacks…as huge courses like this are the goal of ASU, I once again am suspicious of the pure intentions of this article.

After all, walking into a room with confusing machinery and physically fit individuals is a daunting task. Not only do we feel inadequate, but we don’t know where to start.

     This is basically the advertising campaign for Planet Fitness, right? Anyone intrigued by the above selling points can just go down to Planet Fitness and pay $10 to get a tutorial on how to use those “confusing” machines (honest, $10 is a fair price to learn how to use them).

      Wouldn’t freely paying $10 to learn how to lift weights be fairer than paying thousands of dollars in college tuition to do the same? Heck, you probably won’t even get weights to lift in the college course (say it with me: “jumping jacks”), because purchasing 10,000 sets of weights would cost real money. That would cut into the Poo Bah’s pay.

     Anyway, the article is just a blizzard of foolishness, trying to get suckers to actually buy into paying thousands of dollars to learn how to do the things they already learned how to do for free when they were children.

       But that’s what higher education already is, for the most part.

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