“I hate P.E.,” my almost 15 yr old son said over breakfast this morning before school.
“Why? I thought you were finally getting into it. What about the team you're on and the obstacle course you were doing, that you told me you're getting better at since you started lifting?”
He'd started lifting weights at home after letting his team of six down when he couldn't climb the rope at school. He was very disciplined about lifting daily, and I was proud of him for his follow-through.
“We switched to tennis in gym. Everyone picked partners and no one wanted to partner with me.” His eyes filled, just this side of crying.
“So what do you do in class if you're the only one with no one to play with?”
“I play by myself against a wall.” And now tears were falling.
“And everyone can see you playing by yourself while they all have partners?” It kind of slipped out. I was trying to get a visual on the scene, to help me define it, my mind searching for possible solutions to his dilemma.
“Yes. And it's really embarrassing, mom. I feel like a jerk.”
“Have you talked to the teacher about this?” And my ire rose as I considered the ignorant P.E. teacher for setting up an environment that set the stage for bullying.
“Yes. I asked if I could do weights instead, but he said they were for the weight class only, even though no one is using them during our P.E.”
“Do you want me to email your teacher and ask him if you can do something else than play against a backboard alone in front of your entire class for the next four weeks?”
“No,” he said, resigned, depressed. “I'll ask him today if I can run on the track instead.” But I know he won't. My son hates running.
Instead of emailing the teacher this morning without my son's consent, I'm writing this blog to dispel some of my frustration with this lazy P.E. teacher who chooses to remain blind to individual students he's supposed to be inspiring. This ignorant teacher had many options when setting up the tennis wheel of his gym class. He could have:
1. Assigned the teams himself.
2. Have the teams rotate so no student got completely left out of the loop, as my son has.
3. Given my son options of running, cycling, lifting weights since this teacher was too lazy to assign teams or rotate them.
Shame on him! His job is to inspire kids with a love of exercise, which is massively important for our health and well being throughout our lives. Instead, this ignorant teacher told the class of 50+ kids to pick partners and play tennis for the next four weeks, completely ignoring the set up for bullying he created for kids like my son who ended up with no one. Forcing my son to play alone makes him a target of taunting, which he's already experienced. It also sets him up for being excluded from future sports partnerships in which the teacher is too lazy to orchestrate the teams or address his students individual needs. But probably worst of all, it crumbles my son's ego, shames him in front of his classmates, enforces feeling small and valueless. And instead of learning to love athletics, he'll grow to hate it, and those associated with it, instilling anger instead of inspiration.
All of this was completely unnecessary, and totally avoidable had this P.E. teacher directed his students to include everyone, instead of minimally performing his job without accountability to anybody, even the students he hurts, possibly for life.