Harriet Walker: I blame the psychotic gym teachers

Share
Related Topics

As a pupil whose abilities lay very much beyond the sports pitch, I recall distinctly the contempt and cruelty with which I was treated by those in charge of my supposed physical wellbeing. The problem with sport in schools is that it's precisely that – not exercise, not health, not calisthenics, but sport. And sport is not for all.

Particularly not for teenage girls, it seems. I can well understand that. As an avowed hater of physical activity, I was probably not the easiest to teach. Teenage girls have all manner of imagined ailments and impediments to exertion, from periods to boyfriend troubles to elaborate hairdos, and many of them are content to stand deep field and text their mates throughout a PE lesson.

My problem with PE was not that I didn't need to keep fit – I did, and we all do. But it strikes me that PE is the one discipline which takes absolutely no steps whatsoever to try to be accessible to those who find it difficult. Bad at maths? Try these basic formulae. Can't manage your French homework? Let's simplify things a bit. Can't catch, run, throw or jump? Stand in that corner and some bone-headed "teacher" will encourage the strong kids, the ones with muscles, swishy ponytails and no futures, to laugh at you.

It takes a special sort of sadist to teach PE. Being a small-town tyrant seems to come with the territory. We all know the sort of crass, deep-voiced, illiterate provincial idiot who could make your life hell. The sort who would make you play netball on a sprained ankle, who would stand there in the January fogs wearing a coat, hat and scarf and scream at you as you dared to shiver in your gymslip. And that's before you consider those members of the PE department who lingered that bit too long in the changing room, or burst in accidentally as girls disrobed, or corrected racket technique by brushing against fledgling busts.

The problem with PE is easily solved however. As we learned from The Apprentice, the fitness industry is a massive machine, constantly evolving and reinventing itself. There are thousands of options for those who want to keep fit and schools should take note.

Who wants to play rugby in freezing mud? Who gives a toss about learning how to bat in cricket? These are hobbies, not life skills. From aerobics to zumba, trampolining to tap dance, if school sports departments offered a bit more flexibility – and ditched the psychopaths – they might find their young charges rather more responsive.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Election catch-up: I’m not saying the Ed stone is bad – it is so terrible I am lost for words

John Rentoul
 

Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living