Bridgewater State Professor Wants To Eliminate Dodgeball At Bridgewater-Raynham And Have Square Dancing Instead Because Dodgeball Isn’t Inclusive Enough
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If you want a good laugh the read this op-ed in Bridgewater Wicked Local:
(Sam Baumgarten has been an educator for nearly 50 years and has lived in Bridgewater for 39 years, teaching at Bridgewater State University, with 20 of those years spent at the Burnell Campus School teaching elementary PE, and the remaining years with BSU students in teacher preparation. He has made more than 100 presentations at professional meetings and has co-authored a text on elementary PE.)
After 13 plus years of letters and private conversations with Bridgewater-Raynham district administrators—superintendents, principals and curriculum directors— and 11 years on the Health Advisory Committee, it is time for a public statement about curriculum and instructional practices in physical education, primarily at the upper grade levels. Three specific issues are: 1) on-going use of dodgeball—also called astroball—as a staple in the curriculum 2) use of large group games and 3) separation of boys and girls in high school physical education.
Let’s look at dodgeball: Why are B-R high school students (or students at any level) playing dodgeball in physical education? Since the early 1990s, dodgeball has been relegated to the Physical Education Hall of Shame, and our national association, SHAPE America, has published a position paper declaring dodgeball as an inappropriate practice. It is a human target game, whose purpose is elimination. While some modify the game by using soft balls and creating rules for greater inclusion, the game has little value in the development of a physically literate person. Some claim that the game builds various motor and manipulative skills and develops strategic thinking, but it doesn’t! Typically, those who are more highly skilled dominate the game. Those needing practice don’t get much. And, really, there isn’t a whole lot of deep strategy in dodgeball.
Why are kids playing dodgeball in gym class? Ummmmm….because it’s the greatest gym class game that’s ever existed. Duh. But I guess Sam doesn’t want it played because it’s a “human target game, whose purpose is elimination.” And no one should ever be eliminated in a sport. Everyone gets a trophy. Dodgeball doesn’t have nearly enough “inclusion” because the fat kids who get hit first don’t get to play as long. God forbid!!
What should we do instead Sam?
A key question to ask is: What are the students not getting in their PE experiences because of the amount of time spent playing dodgeball? Are they—both boys and girls—learning about personal fitness and actually getting to create and follow personal fitness plans? Are they getting opportunities to experience dance—folk, square or ballroom? Are they getting any outdoor/adventure education programming, where team building and challenge are a focus? Are they getting opportunities for better body management through yoga or Pilates or gymnastic-like movement? And, given the on-going attention to the social/emotional status of our students, doesn’t it seem odd that we include an activity that is aggressive in nature—hitting someone with a ball – as opposed to something like square dance, in which students would actually learn to build community, and find appropriate ways of behaving, and moving together?
Oh, he’s one of THOSE gym teachers. One of these “gym class isn’t a game” gym teachers. We get it, you went to Springfield College and you spent a lot of time learning about fitness and all that good stuff. But at the end of the day kids don’t care. Gym class is a relief from real classes. It’s what you look forward to all week. No kid in America has ever said, “I can’t wait to square dance period 4.”
It’s like Miss Wolf all over again. She was my gym teacher up until 4th grade. I used to hate gym because all we did was the parachute, square dance, and check our pulse. I would’ve rather been learning my multiplication tables. Then one year Mr. Powers was hired. He just gave us a ball and said to pick teams for soccer. And all of a sudden – BOOM – gym class was fun. Sure, we didn’t actually learn anything, but gym class isn’t there for you to learn. It’s there to give you a break from learning.
Then there was this:
More importantly, we have reached a point in our society where we acknowledge a variety of gender identifications. It would seem that arbitrary separations, based on the words “boy” or “girl,” will not meet the needs of all students.
In sum, to allow dodgeball to go on, year after year, is poor practice and it should be eliminated!
Why is it always Bridgewater State? Hey Sam, dodgeball is awesome. Just because you were always the first one out doesn’t mean you should ruin everyone else’s childhood.