We know all too well that this trend of decreasing physical activity only further increases the negative impact of bad health (both mental and physical) of youth to be successful in school. Further more, the researchers forecast that this trend indicates a lifetime of bad health for these youth.
Providing more minutes within the school schedule for physical activity is certainly a necessity. And it is great to see that more and more states are mandating and embracing more time per day and week.
But, as any physical educator will tell you, just because time is schedule, equipment is purchased and students are required to participate, does not mean they will:
- Challenge themselves.
- Stretch past their perceived boundaries.
- Increase their enjoyment
- Experience success.
- Seek opportunities for physical activity on their own.
- Continue physical activity into young adulthood and adulthood.
In other words, intrinsic motivation!
In essence, the question I hear over and over again from educators is ...how do we engage kids who don't participate or who have previously been unsuccessful with physical activities.
At Project Adventure, we've been struggling with that question as well. We know from our 37 years of history that students who have difficulty engaging in traditional programs and activities LOVE adventure. That they challenge themselves, build confidence, they accomplish things they never dreamt possible. We know that peer support inherent in adventure programming supports students to be successful and continue showing up.
Now we are professing that you only need Achieving Fitness to solve all the problems of inactivity, but we do know is that physical educators and fitness professionals who have tried Achieving Fitness agree that it is a great first step to getting youth involved in traditional fitness activities in a meaningful and long-lasting way.
Reflections from a physical educator who took part in PA's Achieving Fitness workshop:
"I think the two most important things I learned as a result of attending were: how to apply adventure theory to what I teach, and how to change my teaching to promote intrinsic motivation.
Embarrassingly, I had believed that intrinsic motivation belonged only to the highest caliber athlete or scholar. However, in our discussion of the characteristics of intrinsic motivation:
- creates challenge,
- provokes curiosity,
- allows for choice,
- promotes creativity.
I realized that I see moments of intrinsic motivation every day in my classes, but just not all the time. Also from having been a teacher for a number of years and also from having been a mom and watching my son, I mused over the idea that intrinsically motivated students are rarely behavior problems in the gym and so why not try to teach using activities that would be intrinsically motivating.
The problem I still see is that of differentiated instruction. For every student that comes into the gym who has had a multitude of physical experiences, another comes in shyly, and who participates marginally. A common attitude among lower elementary students is that they show signs of low self esteem around sport activities with which they have little experience.
My assumption was that they were coming into the gym feeling like it was the right place to be if you didn’t know how to play a sport. Rather, they often come in with the idea that everyone else will be better than them and there is the occasional student who just “freezes up” about trying something they may not be very good at. I liked how the Project Adventure activities for fitness would get kids moving no matter what their ability level because they wouldn’t have preconceived notions about the activity".
Let us know what you think?
(*Philip R. Nader; Robert H. Bradley; Renate M. Houts; Susan L. McRitchie; Marion O'BrienJAMA. 2008;300(3):295-305.)