Ah, gym class. For many kids, it injects a 45-minute burst of enjoyable exertion and playful activity into an otherwise dreary school day.
But not so fast! All classes must become standardized under the Common Core national education curriculum guidelines. And that means kids should expect a fair amount of math and English to seep into their gym time.
In an article that asks "Is Common Core Ruining Gym Class?" Madeleine Cummings of Slate reports that many schools are already restructuring gym class to feature less physical activity and more studying:
Yes, even gym teachers are under pressure to teach to the controversial new Common Core standards, which are reshaping teaching and learning (not to mention political alliances) across America. The Common Core calls for cross-disciplinary teaching and the reinforcement of foundational English and math skills in not only core academic subjects, but in art, music, and gym as well. Test-score-conscious school principals, in turn, see any extra math and reading practice as a way of helping children perform better on the all-important standardized tests that increasingly determine the fate of their schools. Who needs exercise when gym class can serve as yet another 45-minute opportunity for teachers to shoehorn in vocabulary and multiplication drills?
Cummings points out a big, obvious problem with all this: Gym teachers aren't necessarily qualified to teach math to kids—let alone keep track of which grades are supposed to be learning geometry, multiplication, story problems, etc.
Additionally, I simply can't imagine that mandating even more instructional hours—and fewer hours of physical activity—is ultimately healthy for kids.
More from Reason on Common Core here.