How Physical Education Survives in a COVID-19 World

Back in March when most countries around the world went into a lockdown, teachers all around the world were affected. Especially PE teachers. In the UK and Ireland a celebrity fitness instructor named Joe Wicks brought it on himself to teach PE virtually. I never understood why this was the case. What were the actual PE teachers doing? Why was a celebrity fitness instructor doing my job? This is a question I have tried to figure out for the past few months. However, we are now entering another lockdown where PE teachers have to step up and be counted or we may lose PE as a subject in schools.

PE shake app

Ever since I was a child I have always been told by my parents and teachers to go outside and be active and healthy. In Ireland students are sent outside in any type of weather as they will take part in many sports in unseasonable weather. This was originally seen as a good way of building up a students immune system. However that now seems to be totally different to what the health professionals recommend. They have issued statements promoting the need of staying indoors. Gyms all over the world are closed. Peoples mental health and physical health have been halted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With all this happening in the world I now believe that a PE teachers job is more important than ever.

The game of Mölkky

There are of course obstacles facing all the PE teachers. While remote learning is possible, it is also very difficult. Since I arrived at EISB I have tried to give all students the best physical education I can with very little use of equipment. I have researched online and ordered many games that can be done in small groups allowing students to keep a safe distance from each other. One game I ordered that was a huge success is Mölkky or Finnish bowling. The players use a wooden pin to try to knock over wooden pins (also called “skittles”) of almost similar dimensions with the throwing pin, which are marked with numbers from 1 to 12. The pins are initially placed in a tight group in an upright position 3–4 meters away from the throwing line, with the pins organized as follows: 1st row, 1/2; 2nd row, 3/10/4; 3rd row, 5/11/12/6; 4th row, 7/9/8. Knocking over one pin scores the number of points marked on the pin. Knocking 2 or more pins scores the number of pins knocked over (e.g., knocking over 3 pins scores 3 points). A pin does not count if it is leaning on the throwing stick or one of the numbered pins (it must be parallel to the ground to count). After each throw, the pins are stood up again in the exact location where they landed. The first one to reach exactly 50 points wins the game. Scoring more than 50 will be penalised by setting the player’s score back to 25 points. A player will be eliminated from the game if they miss all of the target pins three times in a row. This is a game that has allowed students to compete yet also stay distant from each other in these tough times.

How the pins should look in Mölkky

So even after finding a game like Mölkky I must continue to give the students here a good physical education without any equipment. How can I do this? How can other PE teachers keep their job, which is now more important than ever? I think we should turn to technology. We should embrace it and use it to aid us in teaching students how to stay fit and healthy while at home. There are so many apps out there to aid PE teachers to allow us to give a good PE lesson each week. Apps like Fitnesskids, the PE shake and Sweat deck.

Fitnesskids app

In summary, a positive role-model that facilitates learning healthy life skills can be developed in a physical education setting. The link between student and teacher is important to ensure that learning takes place. This is a new challenge in teaching physical education and physical education teachers will be a resource teacher-personal trainer and coach to all students during this second lockdown. Physical education teachers motto should be “Guiding youngsters in the process of becoming physically active and healthy for a life time.”

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