Day 2: Should running be used a punishment in schools?

It’s day 2 of the Fitness Blogger 30-day Writing Challenge and today I will be addressing this question:

‘Share your thoughts and feelings about Gove’s recent announcement that running should be used as a form of punishment within schools’

Well my initial reaction to this was ‘what a tit!’ Then I thought about it for a while and realised my thoughts were ‘what a complete tit!’

For those of you, like me, who are generally bad at keeping up to date with current affairs – this is the lowdown:

Michael GoveLast week, Education Secretary, Michael Gove, released guidelines for teachers on ‘traditional forms of punishment’ that should be used within schools where children are badly behaved. The list of punishments included such things as litter picking, removing graffiti, weeding and extra physical activity such as running around a playing field!

WTF!!!! Did I completely miss something here? Has the government not spent the last few years droning on about reducing obesity in children? Government policy actually aims to see a sustained downward trend in the level of excess weight in children by the year 2020. A crucial aspect of this is not only improving diet, but also encouraging children to be more active! Did Gove not get the internal memo on this?!

Gove doesn’t appear to be overly popular amongst the teaching profession, but I can’t say to know an awful lot about him and his policies overall. What does seem to be apparent is that he is trying to make a shift back to a more ‘old-fashioned’ approach to teaching. Now, in itself I am not against the overall purpose of the guidelines. I believe that a balance of positive reinforcement for good behaviour and punishment for bad behaviour is probably a quite sensible approach. However, those ‘punishments’ not only need to be equitable and proportionate, they also need to not demonise activities that we should be encouraging children to do!

We have worrying rates of obesity in the UK currently, with 61.9% of adults and 28% of children (aged 2-15) being classified as obese. It’s also been scientifically proven that being overweight can have detrimental effects on our health. Including putting us at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. It can also have a negative effect on our self-esteem and mental health. So it seems to me that we should be supporting extra physical activity in schools as a good thing, not branding it as a ‘punishment’ in  the eyes of our future generations. In a country where the weather is not naturally conducive to outdoor activities (for a large proportion of the year) and a society prone to sitting on the sofa and watching TV or playing computer games – physical activity is often neglected by many of us.

I wasn’t one of those super-fit kids that excelled at all things ‘sporty’ in school. No, I was the fat, overweight kid, who ‘dreaded’ having to run the 1500 metre every summer athletics season! The thought of it would make me sick. I can even remember being selected for the form hockey team one year (they must have been desperate!) and I resorted to hiding so that I wouldn’t have to take part. The idea of being told off was more appealing than killing myself running up and down the hockey pitch! I have struggled with my weight all my life and it is only in recent years that I have started to appreciate the true benefits of exercise and eating more healthily. Although I still struggle with my weight! 😦 I still think Gove is a mad man! We should be ‘bigging-up’ sports to kids, making it something that everyone can enjoy on some level. Schools are already only able to offer limited PT sessions, due to staff shortages and limited funding – extra physical activity in schools should be something to be celebrated and looked forward to, not seen as a bad thing! I wish someone had taken the time to invest some of this knowledge in me when I was younger!

Gove – go back to your plush office, sit at your desk, check your old emails, read the memo ….. and get your shit in line with your Government’s policy to encourage activity in children and tackle obesity!

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6 thoughts on “Day 2: Should running be used a punishment in schools?”

  1. Why you would want kids to see exercise as something negative is beyond me – clearly he has never reaped the benefits from it himself – so out of touch…

  2. Running as a punishment… that’s an excellent way to make sure they never CHOOSE to do it! At my older son’s school, loss of recess is a great motivator. He really doesn’t want to lose recess

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