Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Thanks to C.J. Cain, Physical Education Teacher at Panther Run Elementary School (Lake Worth, FL) for providing this opinion piece.

“Coach” - one who instructs or trains ; especially : one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy

“Teacher” - one that teaches; especially : one whose occupation is to instruct

I’ve wrestled with my thoughts on being called “Coach” Cain for years. Here in Florida Physical Education teachers are often called “Coach”. I believe that everyone is a teacher to someone. Maybe it’s our children, our neighbors, the students under our supervision; in one way or another we teach others through our actions. I certainly consider myself a teacher and not just a “Coach”.

I look at how Physical Education is widely viewed in schools. We’re widely seen and regarded as “coaches” as Webster defines the word “instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy”. This is old-school Physical Education. This is not how we should be defined and we should move away from the sports-model of PE.

By allowing ourselves to be called “coaches” are we in a way allowing ourselves to be seen as lesser than what we are? We already have the US Dept. of Education, and state/local school boards of education and school administrators not valuing Physical Education. Our profession as a whole does not have the perception in the public that we wish to or should have. It leads to the questions of “How do we change the way Physical Education teachers are viewed and valued in our country”? “What can we do?”

Many of us out there are doing great things. Many of us within our local schools, local districts, state/national level and in some cases internationally are being recognized for the things we are doing. How do we get more people to pay attention and to learn about these great PE programs that exist? To understand what we do and our importance in schools? How do we move all Physical Education teachers forward?

Many questions crossing my mind lately. I watched a great documentary film over the weekend and thought – wouldn’t it be powerful if there was a documentary film on how childhood obesity is impacting our children. A really personal documentary following children throughout their day, home and school. Feel that would help the public understand just how serious this epidemic is.

Would also be a great film looking at the failing of the American Physical Education system. Show the “roll out the ball” teacher vs. someone like a George Velarde and his amazing program in Sierra Vista, CA. This entire diatribe from me speaks to the need for us to have serious conversations about our roll within education and how we can improve what we do for this generation and future generations of children….

I’m now officially off my soap box. :)

Christopher J. Cain
Panther Run Elementary Physical Education
Lake Worth, FL

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