Posts Tagged 'education'

Middle School Gym Class Can Be Brutal

Simone Weisman

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So we didn’t have to wear itchy uniforms like those our parents had to put on. Nevertheless, middle school gym classes never lost their brutality. In the locker room that smelled like pickles, I would suffer teasing and dodge gossip. While I always managed to pull myself together in time for class, other girls would arrive late, or dressed in jeans. Sometimes they didn’t come to gym at all.

I realize today that middle school gym was geared towards discovering our weaknesses. Instead of building confidence in us, it created long lasting insecurities. We all dreaded particular units, knowing we wouldn’t get picked for teams. Most of my gym teachers ignored exclusive and reckless behavior, perhaps considering it healthy competition. Conventional gym class was no way to turn the rowdy boys into young men, nor the timid children into team MVPs.

Why not teach children the benefits of sports and exercise instead of simply forcing certain activities upon them? They are not animals to be trained, but human beings with the capacity to reason. First, whether it’s discussion in the classroom or drills in the gym, every child should have the opportunity to be a leader. Moreover, leadership experience boosts confidence and courage. Second, physical educators should teach a ropes course to implement the virtues of teamwork and responsibility.

I believe that many cases of bad sportsmanship, sexist attitudes, and issues with body image can be traced back to middle school gym classes. If physical educators find ways to integrate sports with the virtues of teamwork and fairness, they could help make the transition from childhood to adolescence a happier and healthier experience.

Competition in the Classroom

Max Mackinnon

“Competition” in the classroom has taken over, creating an environment where learning is no longer of primary concern. At this point, it is beyond any doubt in my mind that the mastering of a certain subject or concept is no longer any student’s first priority. It has become about making yourself look better or sound smarter than the person sitting next to you, whether that person is your best friend or someone who you had never seen until the first day of class. Where kids once walked into the classroom with a goal of absorbing and analyzing as much material as possible, we now see a stage where each individual looks to display his or her knowledge and abilities, trying to stand out as the best and brightest. I think it is time to look beyond the other students in the classroom and throw away competitive, bitter feelings. Do not measure yourself against your fellow students. Accomplish goals and look to learn for learning’s sake.

The Dangers of an Overworked Student Body

Grace Duggan

Earlier in the semester I attended the town hall meeting regarding homophobia at Middlebury. A number of students, professors, and faculty members showed up to the McCullough Social Space, but quite a few chairs were empty, and the majority of individuals who showed up were not students. One professor asked the audience, “Where are all the students?” Rather than ask the students where their peers were, the professor at the town hall meeting should have asked her peers, “Are we partly to blame?”

Middlebury prides itself on having a student body comprised of well-rounded individuals. But in an environment full of over-achievers, the vast majority of the student body does not have much in the way of free time. Students juggle classes, homework, jobs, sports, music, clubs, plays and a slew of other activities. When you factor in all of the lectures, screenings, and talks open to the student body each week, it is no wonder that few students showed up to the meeting. There were several other events scheduled at the same time as this town hall meeting, including one with a similar subject matter. Also, the meeting was held at 4:30, when a significant portion of the student body was heading off to team practices. We are all overbooked, and we live in an environment that encourages this kind of scheduling.

Merilee Jones, the former dean of admissions at M.I.T., was recently quoted in the New York Times as saying that our generation is “the most anxious, sleep-deprived, steeped-in-stress, judged, tested, poorly nourished generation.” Students rush from one commitment to the next, study late into the night, try to let off steam on weekends, and generally burn the candle at both ends. If the college likes a student body full of well-rounded individuals, then why does it continue to endorse a notoriously heavy workload, often to the detriment of the health of the student body?
More than once I have been told that it is not the job of the professor to make the student’s life easier. At the same time, it is not the job of the professor to encourage an environment overflowing with stress. We cannot deal with issues affecting our community if we do not have time to be a community in the first place.