Phys Ed Department Review

Read The Spectator’s Physical Education department review!

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The Physical Education (PE) department at Stuyvesant is one that’s often overlooked. However, it effectively serves its intended purpose of keeping Stuyvesant students healthy. Teachers almost always give students the opportunity to participate, whether that be through leading stretches or helping with equipment.

Though grading is generally fair, there is a significant discrepancy in the methods used. Some teachers give two-out-of-fours when students are not in uniform, while others disregard it and give a four. Some even prohibit students from wearing certain sneakers, even if the shoes in question align with the department policy of athletic attire. 

As is the case with the majority of courses at Stuyvesant, students are often disappointed when their top choices for PE electives are denied. Even if they do get their desired elective, occasional restrictions in gym availability can sometimes prevent students from actually partaking in their class. If teachers are unable to teach a certain course, then it should, at the very least, undergo a name change. Students should not have to guess which activity they will participate in each time they walk into PE class.

One recent initiative taken by the PE department is the introduction of the “Foundations of Sports” elective, where students can learn about coaching, refereeing, and the management side of sports. It’s a classroom elective, something that hasn’t been done in the department before, and it’s an important class for those interested in sports but not in playing the sport. It has been widely popular thus far, though it is senior-priority currently.

Much to students’ approval, summative assessments are simply a test of students’ mastery of a certain sport or activity. These assessments cause little stress and are a good measure to see if students actually apply themselves in PE. Like participation, this is not standardized in all classes, as many teachers skip testing students on each sport and instead input a 100 for everyone. Students go through the activity their class is assigned to and learn different skills in the sport. While some students enjoy participating, the vast majority like to sit on the sidelines. The PE department could remove generally unpopular activities for more popular ones. Freshmen are widely known to despise square dancing and would much rather prefer an activity that is more engaging and enjoyable (pickleball, for instance). 

For a long time, student-athletes have asked for their sports to fulfill the PE requirement. Student-athletes are far more in shape by participating in their sport than by attending an actual PE class, and it would be a great benefit to them if they were allowed an extra free period to rest or take a class of interest. Other schools such as Bronx Science have already implemented this, and Stuyvesant should follow suit.

Another quirk of PE class is the requirement to change into uniforms. Though it’s designed to prevent students from building up sweat and stench in their regular clothes, most students don’t actually work up a sweat during gym class. Classes typically include light movement. Should changing be made optional, classes could run closer to the full length of the period rather than the 30 or so minutes they do run to account for students changing into and out of gym clothes. 

Overall, the Physical Education department does a good job of giving students a well-rounded education and is expanding opportunities for students interested in managing sports. There have clearly been steps made to better students’ experiences, but more could be done such as having more fun gym units and rearranging the gym availability to accommodate for gym electives. Many students at Stuyvesant are not athletically inclined, leaving the PE department with the tough task of motivating students to participate.