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Effective Oxymoron

My wife told me the other day about how her high school is now doing "Online Phys Ed".

I immediately prepared a dismissive snot-snort, presuming that the conversation was going in the direction of "that is clearly the stupidest thing idea ever". However, she clarified that, in fact, she supported the idea, making me mumble something and wipedat my nose pretending that my forceful exhalation was a biological necessity and not a declaration of how much smarter I am than that idea.

She then went onto clarify how it worked.

Each of the students gets a heart monitor watch, and are given a target heart rate to achieve. It is then their homework to reach that level for 15 minutes 3 times a day, in whatever activity they choose. They are then able to upload the results (similar to Nike's Run products) as evidence which only a single teacher needs to keep track of and follow-up as necessary.

The benefits are clear:

  • They get to fire all but one phys ed instructor, because fuck those people, am I right?
  • The kids get to free another class slot in their busy schedule.
  • An end to undressing in front of evil and demented peers!
  • Teaching a life skill and habit that is useful
  • A transparent and fair grading mechanism that challenges everyone equally, unlike, say, giving a short kid a "C" in basketball because he is short (I'm looking at you boring lady with a man fro whose name I don't recall from Jr High!).

But I think most importantly is that this transforms Physical Education from "The place where I fret over body issues and get taught how to ballroom dance" into "Freedom to find an activity that suits me".

Especially as I have written before, I think that myself and many others rebelled against the entire concept of physical education after high school, fleeing as far from it as possible to show it how wrong-headed it was.

Now, despite my glasses and height, I never encountered much bullying in school, a statistical anomaly I attribute to my acerbic wit. However such a defense mechanism only works in the semi-civilized daylit halls where words have the potential to shame, it is completely stripped of power in the florescent lair of jockstraps.

I myself recall changing in a hurry, constantly glancing around to see if I was going to be the one ambushed and dragged to the locker room toilet to be dunked, or keeping one hand on my shorts fearful of being panted by the older kids. Of responding to simple questions like "do you have some deodorant I can borrow?" with the caution of answering a Sphinx's riddle. Or fretting about fixing my sweaty hair afterwards without the aid of a proper shower which would involve nakedness (and which no one dared).

That shit is penal colony cruel, and I am so completely grateful that the internet has answered my hushed twenty-year-old prayers, hopefully for all generations to come.