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Students Wary of New Gym Curriculum

By Anna Dubey ‘21

Changes have swept the Physical Education curriculum this year, including a new weight-room program and occasional homework. The Physical Education department instituted these changes because of the necessity of students learning about fitness, diet, and healthy practices. Heschel Athletic Director Rick Munn asserted that this knowledge is “key at this point” in students’ lives.

The sometimes-mandatory, sometimes-optional assignments to read articles as homework have sparked incredulity among some students, as well as doubt that others complete the homework. “I feel like [article-reading] is not being taken as seriously as it should be. You’ll have 10 to 15 percent of the class read it and discuss it,” estimated junior Ethan Nestelbaum. Jordan Sumberg, another junior, was similarly unimpressed by the institution of gym homework. “As for the article reading, I mean, maybe it’s a bit ridiculous, considering how much extra work we have in every class. However, the point of [the articles] is pertinent and true,” he said.

Munn recognized that students have considerable work from other classes. “I don’t want to tax [students] further academically. I understand that [they] have a heavy workload,” he stated. However, he doesn’t find the academic components of the gym curriculum to be especially demanding. “There will be a few times where I do require an intelligent response to a prompt or questions, or even give a small quiz over terms and the meaning of different fitness components,” he acknowledged. “But it’s going to be mostly getting the idea of fitness and diet and healthy practices into [students’] minds.”

Besides periodic homework, the Physical Education department has also instituted a guided program in the weight room. Students in the sports-playing gym class may join or exit the weight room class every few weeks. Sumberg saw benefits and detriments to the program. “I would say that it’s great because it… force[s] people who often do nothing in the gym to actually do something,” he said. “But for me personally, it’s a bit of a nuisance, because I am very motivated and have a general plan of workout and don’t feel the need to follow Rick’s plan.” Some students are given permission to use the weight room during gym class without following the guided program, based on gym teachers’ evaluations.

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