Slippery Rock Aims to Change Gym Class
The revised physical education program aims to focus on health, wellness and living well.
Five years ago, when faculty in the physical and health education department at Slippery Rock University realized there was a problem, they set out to do something about it. What they realized was that the old-school approach to physical education class was no longer working, and they decided to meet the needs of today’s society by changing their curriculum for students studying to be physical education teachers.
They focused on movement and wellness as a means for preventing chronic health problems, changing the program name from Health and Physical Education: Teacher Education, to School Wellness Education, a change that was authorized by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.
The revised program will launch in August and will prepare graduates to be certified to teach K-12 health and physical education with a focus on health and wellness. The graduates will advocate the benefits of healthy living and will also be qualified to orchestrate school-wide wellness initiatives.
"Elementary, middle and high schools need to be looked at as the epicenters for change. With that in mind, we knew we had to retool our message about health and physical education,” says Randy Nichols, professor of physical and health education, in a press release. "We're not about producing gym teachers, we're about producing school wellness educators and creating good behaviors."
The curriculum of the School Wellness Education program will focus on seven components of living well, including activity and movement, nutrition, social and emotional wellness, the human body and its response, health-related fitness and injury prevention and wellness. The curriculum will also include activities that apply to a broader range of interests.
"At the end of the day, we have to think about health and what a child needs," Nichols says. "We are the people who can do it."