So on my runs I have been slowly catching up on marathon talk episodes. I used to always run listening to either music or podcasts, but I have gradually transitioned and now most of my runs are without anything- parkruns, sweatshop and OH club runs are all earphone-less, and so of course are races. So I had a huge backlog (combined with pretty much no running in December) and so am in December at the moment. I was very surprised on my long run last weekend to hear an interview with a PE teacher from the secondary school I went to (although he is younger than me so didn’t teach me). It was a really good show (here) also including a chat with a guy from Strava.
But it got me thinking. Why did I hate PE so much? I really enjoyed school, I was well behaved, did my homework without any pressure from my parents. I always took part in PE (I did not have the cheek to pretend to have cramps to get out of it!), and tried my hardest. I liked being active- as a family we would walk or go on bike rides, on holidays we would swim, hire kayaks or play tennis. When I was younger I had gymnastic lessons, joined the country dancing club ( we had very fetching bright orange skirts), and even a modern dance club – sort of like aerobics with routines to music (like Blue Suede Shoes).
But, I dreaded PE. Why?
- I was not gifted in any area of sport. I would try, but I could not catch very well, could not hit a ball (rounders I’m looking at you), could not run very fast or jump very high. I was always Goal Defence in netball which is ridiculous as the shooters often had nearly a foot on me! The only sport I liked was hockey because I didn’t have to worry about catching or striking.
- It was mostly very cold. I remember one netball game where it started sleeting, and we had to try and catch the ball with frozen fingers- very painful. Plus, netball- what is the point? You hardly move, just stand about in the section of the court. Cold. Again, I liked hockey because I could actually run around a bit and warm up. In my middle school I loved it, but moving to secondary school there was a bit of competition to get onto the hockey team, and because I didn’t make that it seemed that I should not be bothered with in PE.
- It was boring. Games like rounders seemed to involve a lot of waiting about-waiting for your turn to try and hit the ball, or waiting near a base in some vague attempt to try and look like you could catch it if it came near.
- Swimming made my hair wet, and then I was cold for the rest of the day. Why we swam in the winter was a mystery to me.
- I hated changing- we hardly had any time between lessons so it was always stressful. We had showers but no-one used them- the thing to do was to walk in, get wet feet and then make wet footprints on the changing room floor so that if the teachers came in they would think we had showered. Even after swimming we would not shower- we were told we had to, but when you have 5 minutes before your next lesson, and there are only a few showers anyway, is it possible? Plus your body is changing and it gets very uncomfortable to be at various stages of undress with friends and of course “the cool girls” who are all tall and thin and good at sports.
- I was scared of two of the teachers. They used to shout if I couldn’t catch a ball- not very encouraging. (We had two nice PE teachers too, but it was a bit of a rotation I think).
- The PE kit was horrible. Anyone remember those awful gym knickers? And I don’t think I found out about sports bras until my twenties.
Looking back it makes me a bit sad, because I think I was willing to try, but never found something I was good at, so never really had that drive to work at and improve. I was pretty happy when I got to the sixth form and didn’t have to do PE any more. I often had a little bike ride when I got home from school instead, so I was active in a way I was comfortable with. But I think that had I had the chance to do some other things, for example join a cross country club (but for fun- all the ones at school were just for the ones who competed) then I would have enjoyed it. I liked running around in a hockey game after all, and the mud didn’t bother me.
Now, I know that it was a while ago (about 20 years!) and I am sure things have changed a lot.
How were your PE lessons at school? What would you change about them if you could?