Why Physical Education Matters: A Teacher’s Perspective

October 16, 2013

Why PE matters!

Whatever you do, don’t say that Lori Klein-Blazek teaches “gym class.” Klein-Blazek, the physical education (PE) teacher at Jungman Elementary School, says that “gym” carries outdated connotations about PE and those who teach it. “In the movies, it’s always some guy with a whistle and a cap and a clipboard who sits in a chair, blows the whistle and yells, ‘Throw things at each other!’,” she says. “We’re not that anymore. I think administrators and parents are seeing that we are giving students important life skills.”

As Klein-Blazek explains, it doesn’t matter if a student becomes a great basketball player because the lesson is, at its core, not really about basketball. Instead she teaches important values like teamwork and respect, hard work and the importance of health and wellness — lessons for students to carry for the rest of their lives.  

Jungman is one of the more than 30 elementary schools participating in 30+20+10, a new Chicago Public Schools (CPS) pilot program to increase physical activity. At Jungman, PE has increased from 30 minutes per week to two hours, along with 30 minutes of nutrition education.

It’s a big jump from previous years, when PE was offered just once a week. Before, students may have received just an hour or two of instruction in each sport or fitness concept. Now, the extra time allows for more practice, development and physical movement.

Klein-Blazek says students clearly benefit from more opportunities to be active throughout the day. “How long can you sit still? My limit’s about 10 seconds,” she says. “How can we expect our kids to sit still for an hour or two hours? Their bodies are telling them to move.”

In addition to providing more PE, Klein-Blazek offers several activities and resources to help promote more “brain breaks” and in-class movement, particularly HSC’s Fit to Learn. About 90 percent of Jungman teachers report that they’re learning to add more movement to the school day.

As a CPS pilot program, 30+20+10 helps lay the groundwork for even more physical activity in schools. To show your support for quality, daily PE in CPS, please sign HSC’s petition and share the link: bit.ly/Ind-Support-PE. Parents, join HSC on Friday, 10/18, as Parents United for Healthy Schools rallies for daily PE