No cake walk…

I remember physical education. Everyday they would drag us into the gym where we’d play dodgeball, badminton, basketball, murderball, floor hockey, and other assorted indoor sports. There was also time for dance and judo and other oddball activities. They took outside for football, cross country skiing, track and field, rugby, soccer and other assorted sports.

In addition there were afterschool programs. A soccer team. A basketball team. A cross country running team.

Nowadays phys-ed in most schools is limited to a two or three a day a week activity.

And what is our government doing about it?

Well, they’re outlawing cake for one thing.

And they are going to fund a two million dollar program to “encourage” fitness in kids

Why is it so hard to figure out that kids aren’t going to be “encouraged” by a nifty brochure, a speech from a consultant, or a tacky commercial on television?

The answer to the burning issue of how to get kids active for at least an hour a day is to put a few more physical education teachers in the schools.

Do you want to get kids moving? Well – GET kids moving. Make it a class, make it part of the curriculum – like it used to be – and make them sweat a little.

In the interest of keeping it real I will freely admit that I sucked at sports. I hated phys ed. I often signed up to work volunteer in the school library to get out of phys- ed class – (so, in a really twisted kind of manner, phys-ed helped foster my love of reading) – but when I was there I ran and bounced the balls and sweat and was physically active.

A lot of kids were.


I feel the same away about encouraging literacy among kids. We need more librarians and more dedicated library time.

For some reason the school systems in Canada – and in a lot of other countries – is becoming more and more of a compromise. I feel as if the school system these days is being designed by Red Greene, with a truckload of duct tape and an absolute lack of pure common sense.

I know a lot of people will tell me that it’s the budget and the economy and that there just isn’t enough money for that sort of basic approach to remedying this problem.

I’d really like to know what happened along the way. I remember when I was a kid. I remember five days a week at school, with a library that was always open and a full-time dedicated librarian and a gymnasium and an auditorium and a well-rounded approach to education.

I don’t remember buckets of money. I’m not quite sure how we managed to afford all of this decadent splendor – like gym teachers and music teachers and librarians. Perhaps the school board was running a counterfeiting ring in the janitor’s backroom. Possibly we were laundering money for organized crime. Maybe the principal was a millionaire in disguise.

I’m not sure if the folks in charge are running things the way they ought to. Perhaps it is time for a revolution.

Hell, even Marie Antoinette was gonna offer up cake…

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

2 responses to “No cake walk…

  1. We’re going to lower taxes, create wealth, and let the invisible hand of the free market decide what’s good for our kids. Haven’t you heard? Get with the program!

    But seriously, there are good public schools out there. They aren’t necessarily the private schools, or the public schools in the good neighbourhoods (although they often are), and you have to do your research and look for them. How do I know this? My kids’ school bites! No music teacher, mediocre library, no time for kids with special needs. It’s run by nice people, but they do little to help kids learn and grow. I’m taking one kid out and putting him in a private school, and leaving in the younger one for the time being (because he’s a little hardier). But other schools out there are good – perhaps because of the principals, or perhaps because of the riding, or just plain dumb luck.


    • I hear you. I’ve been working in the Nova Scotia Writers in the School program for a whole lot of years – and I have worked at a lot of wonderful schools – many of them rural. The quiet schools. The little schools. The schools that are off the map. I’m not saying that it’s the school’s fault. I am saying that too much meddling with what really works is going to screw things up considerably.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s