Downward Spiral in Gym Class Motivation?

By Kyle Strubeck, Tyler Cramsey, and Justin Burkhardt

The upcoming grades moving into high school have highlighted an increasing trend of lack of motivation and increased resentment when they’re pushed to get active in gym class. Miss Chong, a seasoned veteran gym teacher at Salisbury who has taught since 2007, says she’s observed this trend exponentially increasing in the past couple of years, something she finds troubling.

The biggest issue she sees with the upcoming students: Lack of self-motivation and lack of parental reinforcement of healthy habits, and Ms. Chong believes that technology is part of the reason why. Technology and gaming can be used in a positive light, but seeing students get away with gaming and watching shows in other classes is hurting gym class, as well. The tech industry is constantly developing more ways for the public to be lazy, and handing children phones at early ages is feeding into this. There is a new generation of students who will sit out of gym to do work in other classes, and “complain about running for 5 minutes.” Ms. Chong believes that, “There’s only so much you can do as a teacher. A lot of it has to go on with how the homelife and how they are raised and the examples the parents set forth at home.”

While Miss Chong sees how technology can negatively affect school life, she also sees ways for positive applications in the form of apps. “There are a plethora of useful health and fitness apps, like Peloton (a fitness/biking streaming app) or other ones that center around yoga and live health monitoring, however it just simply isn’t feasible to implement into the class yet and the funding required is probably better used elsewhere.” As the technology is polished and streamlined, she does see that avenue opening in the future. Miss Chong feels that while fitness technology is not viable in the classroom yet and is, instead, better for use at home – “I also think [fitness apps] are good for when kids hopefully exercise on their own time. They motivate you to workout and can track miles/steps/etc. They also act as a great tool for learning new workouts or stretches.”

Miss Chong’s answer to this increasingly negative trend? Keeping things fresh. While Miss Chong feels almost helpless in trying to get the kids to be self-motivated, she keeps the classroom lively and upbeat by giving the kids a range of options. She knows she can’t please everyone, but having the kids choose their activity for the day keeps them engaged, and the classroom fresh with new types of activities.

An increasing amount of students are choosing to sit out as compared to years past, something we as students have observed as well. The students count the amount of days they can sit out while still maintaining  good enough grades to pass the quarter. As “experienced gym-class-takers”, we have observed the problems Ms. Chong laid out, and we can lend credibility to her conclusions. Taking gym class can be boring, but letting the students pick the sport they want to play has proved to be the best solution. For the future, it is up to the students to take advantage of the great opportunity they have and push themselves to utilize the gym to better their health.