If there were an inactivity alarm in Canada, you can bet it would be ringing. More than 95 percent of us don’t get enough activity. Beyond that, more than 65% of the population is overweight. At a time when children need physical education more than ever, it seems physical education teachers have gone missing.
Our schools are cutting back on PE programs when they should actually be specializing their PE programs. A long-term Australian study has found that physical education classes led by specially-trained teachers resulted in “measurable gains in health and academic performance”.
The trick, according to Dr. Richard Telford, director of the LOOK study, “is not to get kids fitter or better at sports, it’s to develop a love of physical activity.”
As noted by Chris Jones, Executive Director and CEO of Physical and Health Education (PHE) Canada, it’s the teacher who can help children develop this love for physical activity through the development of physical literacy.
“A physical education teacher fosters physical literacy among students,” writes Jones for the Sault Star. “Not only is the physical education teacher imparting knowledge, they must also be deeply familiar with fundamental movement skills so that they can recognize proper form and help a student to build these skills in a fun, positive, and motivating environment. This is key because we know that if students do not develop this basic physical literacy they are more likely to lead a highly sedentary, and ultimately unhealthy, lifestyle.”
Jones mentions that Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick all predominately hire specialists to deliver PE, but the rest of Canada needs to get on board.
“The value that physical education can bring is that when taught by an enthusiastic, well-trained, and engaged teacher, it teaches children and youth the fundamental skills that can allow them to participate in a wide variety of activities, enhances their self-confidence, and in turn builds the motivation to move. And we know that it is the school setting where every child – regardless of skill or socio-economic circumstance – can access this learning.”