Another week, another reason for me to be angry. I recently put two and two together and realized that in order for students to graduate from Oswego High School, we need only three Math credits, but four Physical Education credits. Funny, right? You need to be able to run a mile in under 12 minutes, but most students don’t even know how to calculate sales taxes by the end of their senior year.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Your physical health is very important, and since I come from a family with a history of heart problems, I constantly worry about random health scares and annually get checked out. I believe that everyone, health history or not, should get checked by a doctor at least once a year, because the most shocking illnesses happen to those who don’t expect it.
While your health is important, pretending to run eight laps on the track for 30 minutes during your required physical education class should not be considered “exercise.” The majority of the time, when our teachers tell us to run, we slowly jog until we think we’re too far for them to realize we’re walking. The only people who actually go faster than three miles per hour are the “try-hards” and those who actually enjoy exercise and running, like students on the track or cross country team. This also translates to the weight room, where people stand around carrying 5-pound weights and pretending to do curl-ups. Only people that are invested in sports and crossfit will truly take the time to go work out on the machines.
But the worst part is, we value one’s ability to do 40 push-ups over their understanding of mathematics.
The OHS curriculum for math courses consists of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. Unless you decide to take an AP math course such as Computer Science or Statistics, or take a math elective like Pre-Calculus or Directed Study/Math, you’re not getting full mathematic exposure to prepare you for the future. I understand that not everyone is interested in going into a career that involves the math that we learn, but knowing how to do different kinds of math is still important later in life, no matter your career path.
However, after speaking to both a math and physical education teacher, I have learned that both value the other subject as much as they do their own. Both feel that neither one is more important than the other subject because they’re both essential for students preparing to enter the real world.
After gaining perspective from two different sides of the spectrum, I realize that there is no subject that is more important than the other. There are things that we learn in the physical education curriculum that will be important, and possibly save someone’s life in our futures. The concepts we learn in our math classes will be connected to the rest of our lives, just not necessarily in the forms we would expect. Eventually, we could find a way to allow students who are apart of OHS athletic programs to opt out of attending gym classes every day, or students who have the required credits to graduate early to get out of that last semester of gym.
I come out of this rant a little more understanding, and that’s what we all want at the end of the day, right?