Just by reading this title, you must be guessing I’m probably another one of those ‘PE haters’ and whine continuously about having to run at least 4 rounds around the 400m track every PE lesson. But I am here to assure you, that I am absolutely not. I am merely providing another viewpoint of the rigorous PE sessions that EJC has planned for us, and perhaps provide some propositions and suggestions as to how to make the experience more enjoyable for students.
If you are a J1 reading this, then let me tell you now. PE. Will. Get. Tough. No, I’m not exaggerating or trying to scare you, but I am providing you with a realistic expectation. PE will start off pretty rigorous right from the beginning in order to not only get you fit for the year but also to train you for Road Run, our annual March school event, (so do be mentally prepared to run 9 rounds around the track during your next PE lesson…)
While there is no doubt that running can certainly improve both our mental and physical stamina, not many students enjoy it. Why not? Because, well, it’s running, of course. It’s uncomfortable and painful and we all just end up sweaty and gross (and a couple shades darker might I add). But most of all, it can get really, really boring… Having to run a track in circles without any distractions whatsoever but to concentrate solely on your pain and discomforts, rather than to enjoy the process of an increased serotonin levels, is truly tough. We know this, and we feel you.
So here are some ways that you can make running, or PE as a whole, more enjoyable:
Prior to running, you can form your own pacing group. Running alongside friends can make the whole experience a little more bearable. However, make sure that you look for someone who runs at a similar speed as you do, that way, you will not feel demoralised or left behind when he or she sprints off midway, leaving you in the dust; but at the same time will also push you to keep going even when you both know you are tired. You will learn that friendship really is magic. Gathering enough energy to utter a single “You can do it!” or “Jia You!” can really encourage your friends through this arduous journey.
When running, think happy thoughts; try not to focus that much on the pain and instead, motivate yourself by giving yourself short-term goals, such as “Once I reach the shade, I can slow down a little” or “I must reach that tree before him”. Such short-term goals can really motivate you along the way and give you those little energy bursts to help you go through it all, bit by bit; and before you know it, you will have completed your 6 rounds!
However, PE is not ALL about running. Physical Training is also imperative to boost one’s physical strength and build on one’s personal endurance level. However, these PTs can get rather repetitive and rather boring…
So why not play some music? Playing music really does improve our mental strength and motivates us to keep going. For example, my PE band was having PE in the hall as it was raining the other day (thank goodness), and we were doing circuit exercises – 40 seconds of exercise, with 20 seconds rest. Halfway through our second circuit, our teacher decided to blast music from the speakers. Jamming to the music with my friends helped me to stay motivated and even do my jumping jacks according to the beat of the music. This really tied in with one of the purpose and goals according to the official MOE PE syllabus; “Opportunities to establish emotional and social connections as students collaborate on common goals and overcome challenging activities.” Perhaps teachers can design a series of movement that suit the song choice, for example, doing push ups according to the rhythm of the music, going down on every fourth beat, or even doing squats, going down on every second beat.
As I was scrolling through the 200 page document detailing the MOE’s PE syllabus of Singapore, something caught my eye. What really baffled me was that there were so many activities offered at a primary school level, which include dance, athletics, gym, outdoor education etc., but way lesser were offered in tertiary education, which included only 2 things; Physical Activities and Physical Health & Fitness.
So here comes my second proposition:
There are so many other forms of exercise, why limit it to doing rounds around the track, or merely playing different ‘sporty’ ballgames? Why not include activities such as pilates or yoga or dance, even? These activities can make PE a lot more enjoyable for students, and help us to incorporate healthy living and improving our core muscles, as well as help to build up our mental stamina.
Fortunately, one of the saving graces of PE in EJ is the games we get to learn to play and compete against one another. I have to admit, participating in these games are indeed fun and we do get a good workout while also bonding with our friends and unleashing our inner competitive spirits. However, I, personally, feel that the sports offered during the inter-CG games for J2s are limited. My proposal: ask students to suggest on the games and activities that they want to play, before selecting the choices of games to be made available. That way, students will be more willing to participate in the games offered as it may be more widely catered to their interests.
So, from what we’ve all seen so far – okay, fine. Maybe PE isn’t so bad after all. Not only do you get to play fun games with your friends but you get fitter with monitored training.
I realize that what makes it really unbearable in the end is the heat and humidity of Singapore. As someone with 2 PE sessions after 3pm, I can testify. Participating in PE at a sweltering temperature of 37℃ is no laughing matter. Heatstroke is said to occur when the body temperature goes above 40℃. However, do not be fooled by your flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate or piercing headache, these are just signs of you working hard during PE, and putting in your 101% effort is what the teachers want, right? So students get home, with a headache, feeling rather drained, and decide to take a 2 hour nap. The 2 hour turns into 4 hours and the 4 hours turn into 6, and before you know it, it’s 1am. Sounds familiar? Perhaps some students feel more energized after PE, but I wouldn’t know, I’m not that kind of student.
Having two PE sessions that both take place in the afternoon is strenuous. It’s painful, uncomfortable, and downright dreadful. Listening to my friends lament about having afternoon PE sessions has become my only solace. This is also my main inspiration as to why I’m writing this article.
So here is my last proposition:
Make things fair. Every class should at least get one morning slot for PE, that way, more strenuous activities such as running or physical training can be carried out in a more ideal condition at a less sweltering temperature.
So lastly, here’s to the many more arduous, demanding and exhausting PE lessons that might hopefully get better after adopting these methods.
Good Luck Everyone!
Sticker Credit: Aye Tha