Michigan Elementary Classroom Teachers now Qualified to Teach Physical Education.
Say it isn't so!
Upon doing a little research in the area of Physical Education in public schools, mainly here in Michigan, I have come across something that I just cannot believe. Apparently, the state of Michigan has made it official that any elementary school teacher is now able to instruct in all areas in a K-5 setting. This will allow them to not only teach in the core areas or content areas in the classroom, but also teach Physical Education, Art, and Music. Please tell me someone is looking into this and making an argument that the Fine Arts, at any level in our public schools, needs to be taught by a certified instructor that has training in those specific areas and some kind of knowledge in that field. I guess I'm confused as to what "highly qualified" really means. The only way to really attack this issue is to ask some basic Physical Education questions to any elementary teacher out there who thinks they could, without any college level classes, instruct an elementary PE class. Now before I go any further I want to make this point very clear...elementary teachers have the hardest job in education. Far more hands-on instruction than any other level of teaching. They must teach in ALL core areas - Math, English, Science and Social Studies, have limited prep time, deal with children that in many cases have no concept of how to behave in a school setting, and in many cases become that child's parent. My point is - are they qualified enough to teach PE?
Question 1: What is the basic concepts that should be taught to early elementary students, let's say K-2?
Question 2: There are 3 types of Fundamental Motor Skills students need to learn - what are they?
Question 3: Can you define what a locative is?
Question 4: Can you list the 6 different directions that should be taught?
Question 5: Can you define what manipulatives are in regards to Physical Education.
If classroom elementary teachers can answer these questions then I guess they are truly capable of teaching elementary PE! The bad thing is some Physical Education Instructor's may not even be able to answer these questions.
The truth is most Physical Education curriculum's need to be completely revamped. The above questions all have answers to them that a majority of PE curriculum's do not include in their plans. Why would the government pass that elementary teacher's can teach PE, because most of the current PE curriculum's in Michigan show that anyone can teach that particular concept. It's time for a change! There are some significant skills a small child can learn through Physical Education and these skills need to be delivered by someone who is "highly qualified" to do so. Someone who has gone to college, done all the hard work to obtain that particular degree and received their certification. It shouldn't be given to someone just because the curriculum looks easy and anyone could do it....CHANGE THE CURRICULUM not the position!
Oh you may be saying...ok..ok..but what are the answers to the questions - LOL - Here they are:
Question 1: MOVEMENT CONCEPTS - Self Space, General Space, Directions, Pathways, Tempo, Force & Flow, and Fundamental Motor Skills. (Young children have not been taught these concepts at ages 4,5,6 and 7).
Question 2: (1) Non-Locomotor skills i.e. swing, push, sway, rock, balance, pull. (2,) Locomotor skills i.e. walk, run, hop, jump, leap, skip, slide, gallop. (3) Manipulatives - movements with equipment i.e. kick, strike, bounce, roll, throw, catch
Question 3: A locative is a location in space i.e. in, out, bottom, under, over, around, through, front, back, beside.
Question 4: Six different directions include, forwards, backwards, sidewards, diagonal, up and down.
Question 5: Manipulatives are movements that require the use of equipment. How to kick a ball, how to throw a ball, how to roll a ball, how to catch a ball.
One other point I want to mention, and it may be the most significant point in this article,when you deliver anything to any student at any level it needs to be delivered with the idea that the learner will have a high rate of success. Think about it...anything you have done...if you were not successful at it chances are you quit. Now with adults that's a little different due to the fact that you have learned to overcome adversity and constraints. You believe in yourself (self-esteem) and know you can do anything (self-worth). This is not the case yet with little kids - they haven't developed these skills yet. What better place to start developing their self-esteem than in a setting where it may look difficult, but with the right instruction they are successful, therefore, raising their self-esteem. This is why only educators with the appropriate education should teach Physical Education.