Run for Fun
One in every four students gets bullied at school (Ballee). Physical education is a highly social and physically demanding class that tends to alienate the athletically inferior students from their superior classmates. This potentially leads to their victimization. Many accounts have been recorded of bullying during P.
E. classes due to a student’s weight, image, or inability to perform adequately at a certain sport. All high school P.E. classes should not be graded, because grading increases the competitiveness and magnifies the difference in students’ abilities which, in turn, leads to bullying. No one wants to get bullied at school, right? Studies have shown that physical education classes create an environment conducive to bullying.
Students differ in their strengths, some excelling in their academic competencies as opposed to their physical abilities. In addition, people naturally vary by body type in which some are more physically built with muscle, height, and endurance, while others lack the athletic physical qualities. Scott Jackie, a fifteen year old high school sophomore from New Jersey, says, “Your performance is public and based on your physical ability. And if you’re not athletically inclined, you can feel ashamed” (Menza). When unathletic students are publically forced to participate in exercise they become less motivated to work, due to a fear of public ridicule. Sean Healy, a multimedia artist from Oregon that deals with social power structures, states, “Every child receiving physical education has the right to a free, appropriate class; bullying can sometimes become an obstacle to receiving that education” (Healy).
Healy points out that students who enroll in a P.E. class need to have a sanctuary where bullying is omitted in order to receive the necessary education. A calm environment, with gracious and kindhearted students, and high self confidence. These are the necessary factors that provide a bully-free environment.
In addition, Cara Caldwell performed a survey to determine whether bullying was ongoing in physical education classes. Caldwell interviewed Chad Jensen, a psychology professor, who responded that overweight children being bullied reported to put forth less effort in all classes. Jensen also mentions that if teachers are able to help “them to have a better perception of their physical and social skills, then physical activity may increase and health-related quality is likely to improve” (Caldwell). Thus, Jensen suggests that physical education should not be graded, because grading brings out the differences in students’ abilities. The fact that the performance is public in P.E.
classes, as opposed to private in academic classes, makes for increased chances of bullying. In spite of the evidence that shows the increase in obesity throughout the United States, many insist that P.E. is not the right time to force children to exercise and grade them on it due to an increase in bullying as well. In fact, around 31.
9% of children and teens are overweight and if P.E. is not graded then students will not take it seriously (Davidson); however, many of these children are overweight due to other factors that have nothing to do with grading P.E. This does not encourage students to work harder, it only embrasses students that are not up to par physically with the other students.
School administrators should acknowledge the different physical abilities and strengths of their students; therefore, they should create a peaceful environment in which teachers implement a health course that will educate students on a healthy lifestyle as opposed to grading P.E. Consequently, having a less physically demanding P.E. class will decrease high school bullying, since exercising should be a learning experience.
Everyone wants to have a peaceful school day without any stress. School administrators should enforce a calm physical education class that will allow students to enjoy learning about exercise.