Why Physical Education needs a John Muir?
If you ask people about important figures in United States history, most people think of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Henry Ford. We have many important figures in American history but one that has always interested me the most was John Muir.
Who is John Muir? Well if you have ever visited a National Park such as Yosemite National Park in California then you have been touched by the impact of Mr. Muir’s love and passion. John Muir was a simple man that loved the outdoors. He understood the importance of conservation and protecting things that can’t be quantified by numbers. His spiritual connection with nature and enthusiasm helped develop empathy and understanding for the land that he enjoyed over his lifetime. He believed that our historic lands were worth protecting and worked tirelessly to protect them for future generations. He petitioned Congress and in 1890 the National Parks bill passed. He is considered the “Father of the National Parks” with 417 National Parks across the United States since the signing of the bill. His simple movement has grown into one of our biggest national treasures. I am thankful for his work each time I visit a beautiful national park, monument or local county park.
I am thankful each day when I step into my gymnasium or outdoor space at school. I believe his movement is fundamental and spiritual. When we are physically literate, our moods improve and minds are challenged. Each day I struggle with the balance of standard based learning and assessment. While I can assess students growth, I am constantly questioning if we have gone too far to the left with electronic and meta data gathering assessments. Do we want to be like the other educational areas of learning that focus on the test or should we be looking at the spiritual side of education? I believe we need to see Physical Education through the eyes of Muir. We need to stop trying to quantify our impact on student learning and focus on what is most important which is the love of movement. All kids love to move but does our own profession hurt our growth with teaching traditional sports using the sport education model? While I played team sports growing up, I never felt a connection to the sport when transitioning into adulthood. I would rather be outside riding my bike, running or paddling. My love of nature and movement now continues into parenthood with my own family. I enjoy watching my own children play and hope that they too will continue to move and be active into adulthood after their graduations in 2030 and 2033.
Physical Education needs a John Muir to advocate for our profession. We need to channel our love of movement and create a grass roots advocacy campaign to protect our programs. We need to share our knowledge with each other and protect Physical Education and Health in schools. We don’t need a infograph outside our gymnasium with our power six learning goals/concepts. We do need to create models of physical literacy for our communities and campaign at each school explaining the importance of Physical Education. We need to act like John Muir to protect our national treasure called Physical Education.
I am thankful for John Muir and will be opting to go outside on Friday as a part of the #optoutside campaign. I am thankful for my #physed family, and their continued work on social media. Are you ready to protect your passion? Please share what you are #physed thankful for and ideas how to protect our national treasure this week with the hashtag #PhysedThanksU and also tag educators that have helped you over the past year.