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Parkway introduces online physical education course

Junior+Caroline+Judd+attempts+to+follow+an+online+weightlifting+video.+In+the+summer+of+2020+Parkway+is+introducing+a+new+online+physical+education+course+available+to+all+students.
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Parkway introduces online physical education course

Junior Caroline Judd attempts to follow an online weightlifting video. In the summer of 2020 Parkway is introducing a new online physical education course available to all students.

Junior Caroline Judd attempts to follow an online weightlifting video. In the summer of 2020 Parkway is introducing a new online physical education course available to all students.

Lydia Roseman

Junior Caroline Judd attempts to follow an online weightlifting video. In the summer of 2020 Parkway is introducing a new online physical education course available to all students.

Lydia Roseman

Lydia Roseman

Junior Caroline Judd attempts to follow an online weightlifting video. In the summer of 2020 Parkway is introducing a new online physical education course available to all students.

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Students scale rock walls, dance to cultural music, toss frisbees, lift heavyweights and earn scuba certifications within the large assortment of physical education courses that Parkway offers. Adding to the selection of physical education courses, online physical education is going to be offered beginning in the summer of 2020, thanks to new Missouri legislation requiring more courses to be available online through the Missouri Course Access Program (MOCAP).

Though online courses are nothing new to public education, staff members are unsure of what physical education will look like online.

“There’s something about playing games with other people, and I don’t know how [that] can be replicated online,” Senior Class Principal Corey Sink said. “I’m interested to know how they’re going to do it. I’m not saying it’s not possible, I just don’t know what it will look like because it’s new—but that’s the thing, education needs innovators, it needs people who are going to be thinkers and are going to see possibilities.”

According to Health and Physical Education Coordinator Eddie Mattison, the physical aspect of the online course will be tracked by a wearable device that students will upload onto a platform for teachers to see. Despite this, physical education teachers are worried of the impact that the lack of physical activity during the school day will have on the students taking the online course from home.

“I think we’re going to see a lot more stress. I couldn’t tell you a percentage, but I know from what I’ve seen and things that have happened that there is a lot more anxiety in this school, in every school, than there ever has been,” physical education teacher Tommie Rowe said. “Online, [students] are not getting that conversation between two students who might realize they have a struggle in common.”

While you might be able to get through the curriculum online, it’s the relationship between a teacher and a student that makes the biggest difference, and I would never want to lose that, or think that that is nothing more than just an interface between social media and computer interaction,”

— Senior Class Principal Corey Sink

MOCAP requires online courses to be offered so that, among other reasons, students can take classes to fulfill their graduation requirements even if they may not have room in their schedule. While online physical education fulfills the graduation requirement, Rowe feels that a brick and mortar physical education class is essential for all students to take.

“In my mind, there will be two types of students who take online physical education. There will be the kids who want to take all AP courses, which I understand, but we are unique in that we offer so many courses that can relieve the stress of AP classes. Then there will also be the kids who are athletes on the fast track to play college ball who think, ‘I don’t need this.’ They may make it, if they’re superstars, but they’re not sure, so they need to learn to exercise outside of their sport, which is why I push for athletes to take physical education classes,” Rowe said. “These kids are under pressure to perform, in their classes and their sport, and these classes can help ease that stress. In our classes, yes, we push you, but you’re learning life skills.”

Alongside Rowe, Sink supports the community aspect of a traditional physical education class and values the face-to-face relationship between a teacher and student.

“While you might be able to get through the curriculum online, it’s the relationship between a teacher and a student that makes the biggest difference, and I would never want to lose that, or think that that is nothing more than just an interface between social media and computer interaction,” Sink said. “It’s connections between people that help us learn. I don’t want to ever think that that’s not going to be part of what we do.

Though the classic style of physical education appeals to Sink, he also recognizes the ways the education is evolving and wants to ensure that this school stays up to date.

“If I were a physical education teacher I would want to look at this as an opportunity. ‘What can I build? What can I design differently that kids will want to take advantage of, either here at school or online?’” Sink said. “We ask students to learn how to be adaptable because that’s what they’ll do in life, but we need to learn that same lesson as educators. We can’t just continue to say that we’re always going to do things the same way. We have to be adaptable if we’re going to ask our students to do the same.”

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Lydia Roseman, NEWS EDITOR

Grade:  11

Years on Staff:  2

If you were a fictional character, who would you be?  Hermione Granger

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