Common Core

Common Core Replaces Gym Class With Yet More Frustrating Math Lessons


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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.

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  1. 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.

    Add some "Forward the proletarian intellectual revolution for the glory of the Motherland" sloganed posters in the Brutalist Art style and this would all sound very hipster.

  2. So patty cake and tic tack toe?

  3. Would teaching how to play the odds on sports betting and horse racing count?

    1. Half the class has a race, the other half has to bet on who will win.

      I was thinking teaching them counting cards, as well. Just play Black Jack with giant, 30 lb cards made of wood and iron that the students have to lug around for weight training and help them to get it. And then, if they lose, they have to do the difference between their score and 21 in pushups. really, this would be great for elementary school kids.

      1. Best idea I have heard in awhile, but what about splinters?

        Why do you hate our children?

      2. Sounds like the matchup between Rainman and Forrest Gump in a biathlon:

        Imagine an open field on a warm, sunny summer day. A table is set up in the field with the two contestants sitting at it ready to begin at the judge's starting gun. When the gun is fired, our two contestants must complete a 10x10 multipication table, and then do a 100 yard dash to the other end of the field. The first one across the finish line wins. Judging the event is the esteemed Vic Tayback. His decisions are final. Who will win?

  4. cross-disciplinary teaching

    As opposed to that quaint ol' "transform this word problem into a set of equations, solve it, and give a real-world interpretation of the result."

    We are so screwed.

  5. Does this mean Michelle Obama is against common core now?

    1. Yeah it seems like once again prog policies are in conflict.

  6. most adults can't sit still and focus on brain tasks for hours on end without walking away periodically. Why in the hell would someone expect kids to?

    1. I switched schools between 9th and 10th grade - private to public. The private school had 50 minute periods. Some days it would take the teacher 10 minutes to get going on a subject and then everyone's looking at the clock for the last 10 minutes.

      At the public school, the day was divided into 4, 90 minute blocks. I got used to focusing on a subject for 90 minutes straight and the teacher could get deeper into the subject each time.

      I took 15 AP and IB tests when I was high school. Being used to sitting and focusing for longer periods of time really helped me on standardized testing.

  7. 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.

    I believe the bigger problem is that we seem to have gym teachers who don't have a firm enough grasp of primary-school mathematics concepts to teach them, no?

    1. Gym teachers and driver's ed is where you stick the coaches for the school sports teams.

      In our school the hockey coach tried to teach english and it didn't turn out well. Once when someone asked him why a certain word was considered an adverb and not an adjective, he replied "Ummmmm... Because that is what it says right here in the book (referring to his teacher's edition of the textbook)"

  8. Ah, gym class. For many kids, it injects a 45-minute burst of enjoyable exertion and playful activity into an otherwise dreary school day.

    I don't know what school you attended, but it wasn't located within the boundaries of this spacetime continuum.

    1. Get back to the bench, fatty.

      1. You think you're going to get a college scholarship for your dodgeball prowess?

        Gym should be focused either on fun, actual competitive sports or self-defense. I would have loved to learn kendo or boxing in gym class.

        1. If you know schools view dodgeball is entirely too competitive and violent and ableist (against people with speed or coordination), why on earth would they sanction martial arts like boxing and kendo?

          1. Well, that's part of the problem with public schools, no? One group's tastes and prejudices dictate the education of many.

            Ironically, in a place like China, there is, in a way, more school choice than we have here in that if sports is your thing, you can skip that whole reading and writing thing and try to enroll in those schools that train you for the Olympics starting at age 3 and eventually go to a school like Beijing Sport University.

            1. That is some of the problem with an education system run by professional students. Like can really only teach like. Currently, the public school system is staffed not by mathematicians, or scientists, or writers, or linguists, but by professional students (people with education degrees), who were at least acceptable at taking tests and regurgitating orthodoxy.

              In Thailand, you can get a degree in Muay Thai Studies. Such a certification restores some of my faith in humanity.

          2. We played a game called wall ball - where you throw a ball against a wall and if you touch the ball but don't catch it, then you have to run and touch the wall before someone pegs you with the/a ball.

            We played with old tennis balls from the tennis courts - some of them had the felt worn off. The teachers put a stop to it because kids were going home with huge welts on their back from the tennis balls.

            1. Tennis balls with the felt worn off? Didn't you have Spaldeens and the like, i.e. ordinary rubber balls?

              1. Ha, people would hit tennis balls off the courts and lose them in the woods. So we'd just use those. There were dozens of them.

                The welts became much more prominent when we started using the ones with the felt worn off. It also didn't help that some of us were on the baseball team, so we really knew how to side arm a ball at pretty high speed and hit a target.

      2. I remember this one morbidly obese kid who the gym teacher insisted "do a few more laps around the track" after the rest of the class had completed the morning run. I'm sure he enjoyed the hell out of gym.

    2. I think Robby may be thinking of recess, because who in their right mind ever liked gym class? The only thing I liked was archery, and for that I think I got to shoot maybe 3 arrow per class because there weren't enough bows or targets for everyone and we had to wait in line a lot.

      1. YOU HAD ARCHERY?!?!

        God, my school's gym sucked. Our most sophisticated equipment was a four-square ball.

        1. four square was awesome in elementary school.

        2. We had archery. The range was small and the targets were set up immediately in front of the unlocked entrance to the room. But there was a sign warning of impending death for those that opened the door.

          1. When we did archery in school, the targets were in a pretty sensible place. But the teachers would attach balloons with candy in them to the targets as a little bonus for people who hit them. We were sternly reminded not to run to pick up the candy until everyone was done shooting. My favorite was the warning that if we did actually shoot someone we would have to make sure that the person who was shot didn't pull the arrow out until the ambulance came. I don't think anyone ever got shot.

        3. My mom's school - 1950s here - had a shooting range. This was a Chicago suburban. How times have changed.

          1. Only thing thats changed there is that now the range is the entire neighborhood now. I'm from that same era, early '50s, near westside, AKA the inner city,

        4. Suburban Western Connecticut. Rich folk country. We also had Russian, Latin, and Italian language classes, in addition to French & Spanish.

          Still not enough to make gym tolerable, though.

      2. We did all kinds of track and field stuff during gym, soccer, softball, basketball... I loved it. Got to go outside during the day and move.

        In Jr. High I secretly liked the square dancing - after actually holding hands with girls I usually had a rager.

    3. I loved gym class. We did mostly competitive sports (and kept score) and also had archery and weight training units. It was great. I wish I had gym class now.

  9. Gym class was unadulterated hell. Something to dread, not look forward to. Formalized bullying far beyond what any schoolyard punk could ever dream of or inflict plus enablement of schoolyard bullies to go above and beyond what they would otherwise attempt.
    it is literally inconceivable that common core could make it worse.

    1. And it is nothing but a union featherbedding scheme. Government job handouts for unskilled labor.

    2. I always liked gym class. Not everybody had it bad in high school.

      1. High school was awesome. You get to hang out with all of your friends all day and dick around.
        Somehow I had an experience of high school where I didn't notice all of the bullying, cliquishness and cruelty that everyone always talks about.

        1. I'm with you school was easy and high school was fun.

  10. I'm sad to hear of those who sucked at physical activity and thus hated gym. I wasn't a star athlete, but I LOVED gym. ESPECIALLY dodge ball. Best. Game. EVER. We played right into high school when they'd let us.

    Worst part of gym class? Yeah, climbing the thick rope up and touching the rafter on the ceiling was hard (and - in retrospect - probably dangerous with the micro mat they put under us in case we fell), but we all managed.

    I thought kids these days didn't get gym class because ERMAHGERD SERKWERSTER! or ERMAHGERD DISCRIMERNERTION or something? Glad to hear some still get the opportunity to let off a little steam....

    1. I'm sad to hear of those who sucked at physical activity and thus hated gym

      Yes, that's the only possible reason to dislike a school gym class. It couldn't be because it was boring and unchallenging for those of us in shape.

      1. OK, dunphy

          1. tsk tsk, someone's touchy

          2. Points given for insult and reply. Well played, gentlemen!

      2. It couldn't be because it was boring and unchallenging for those of us in shape.

        Ha ha! Is HM full of himself this morning or what!

    2. Yeah, I always liked gym, until I got to high school and could take weight lifting instead. Then I loved it.

    3. Our high school banned dodge ball. And trampoline.

      1. Most eventually did/do 🙁 More's the pitty. I'd play that game today if I could get enough people together 🙂

        1. There is a private dodge ball place in Midwest City. They have games for children and adults!

      2. We had a game called 'jungle hunt' where there was one person with a dodge ball and everyone in the gym was the target. The goal was to be the last one standing. But the game was banned because it was deemed too similar to a school shooter scenario and the name was deemed too genocidal.

      3. MY HS didnt allow dodge ball in regular gym.

        If you took advanced gym (seriously), you could play it. But they were all basketball and football players and it was deadly. It looked like fun watching them play.

    4. In High School the football coach let the boys play full-contact floor hockey during gym - awesome!

      1. Ha. Yes. Our football coach was gym teacher so he would turn us loose with the equipment. Floor hockey was hilarious. The hockey players (me) would bend the hell out of the blades and whip pucks at heads. Everyone else went cross check crazy and we returned half of the gear in pieces.

    5. I was highly athletic back in the day. I'm simply not a "joiner" and hate group activities. Not to mention the POA of changing beforehand and showering afterwards and the bitchy girls.

      But I'll go backpacking or swimming or skiing any day.

    6. It's funny. I hated the rope climbing in gym class. But now I love climbing things like that and wish I had more opportunities to do so.

    7. I didn't have to climb any ropes for gym class, but I have to as part of my work outs as an adult.

      If you teach people how to use their feet to climb a rope, it's actually pretty easy. You wrap the rope around leg so that the rope is lying across one of your feet, then step on the rope with your other foot.

      You literally just stand on top of the rope.

  11. Gym teachers aren't necessarily qualified to teach math anything to kids?

  12. At my daughter's school when a kid starts to get too excited or rowdy or can't pay attention enough, they literally send them outside to run laps.

  13. In high school the gym teacher did sex ed. I still remember him saying, "I know a lot of you guys are thinking a condom isn't big enough..." and then taking one and enlosing his entire meaty fist with it.

  14. We are seriously considering military High School for the boy. He just can't sit still all day. A morning run, a mid-day gym class or march, afternoon team practice / rifle range or weight lifting, with classes and studying between - seems a much healthier mix for him.

    Probably a healthier mix for me and I'm 48.

    1. We used to play Culver's hockey team in highschool. It was a big deal back in the day. Made for some funny trash talk with an all boys team vs. the military brats.

    2. I remember reading that some charter schools emphasize more of a physical environment for kids. So classes, broken up by going outside, running, weightlifting, etc.

  15. Who needs exercise when gym class can serve as yet another 45-minute opportunity for teachers to shoehorn in vocabulary and multiplication drills?

    Kids need a further 45 minutes of drill to learn how to 'estimate' their answers and see if they were 'reasonable.'

    I am pretty sure the IRS will take it kindly when you decide to 'estimate' your tax liability.

    I did ask my kid's 4th Year teacher how would she feel if the State decided to 'estimate' her salary instead of calculating it correctly.

    1. Being able to estimate results is a useful skill. Your link is no good, so I can't see how stupidly they are teaching it.

  16. Initially, Common Core standarts were created to make kids more educated, intelligent, help them to succeed in the future. But today many parents don't like it for some reasons. In some cases it's not so effective and doesn't guarantee students to get high paid jobs.Employers are more often focused on skills and experience. Well-written resume and cover letter can help to attract employer's attention and interest. Resume Writing Laboratory can help you submit clear and professional resume and teach tips you can follow to develop an effective resume, connecting what you can do with what potential employer wants to be done.

  17. I think it's nonsense! How can gym classes be replaced with Math?! Physical activity is necessary for health and it's very bad idea to make a kid learn Math instead of playing outside. Common Core has some advantages but it should be reformed as the whole education system, as it's not effective. Students aren't prepared to numerous assignments. I know that Dissertation Writing Lab, a reliable wriing service, is more popular among students, than college educators. I think we need qualified teachers and more physical activity at educational institutions.

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