In a prior post I mentioned how the class I teach is likely going to be phased out over the next 2 years to make room for a NGSS compliant full-year 7th grade science class. I’ve experienced a spectrum of emotions about this since I was first given the news back in February. Now, I’m past feeling depressed and sorry for myself. I am sad about the implications of no longer teaching Health at the junior high level.
In my 12 years Health (13 if you count long-term subbing and student teaching), I have found that junior high kids need Health class. A lot of them come in “knowing” that you’re supposed to eat right and exercise but a lot of kids don’t really know what that looks like… or feels like.
A lot of junior high kids couldn’t tell you what a calorie is or what micro- and macro-nutrients are. Even less of them understand the importance of social, emotional, and mental health. A lot of them have never been challenged to take responsibility for their own health.
My Health class has been a venue for students to ask questions about their bodies that they don’t feel comfortable asking elsewhere. There have been conversations where we’ve clarified any misconceptions that kids may have received from TV or movies.
While I am not discounting the importance of teaching Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Science, PE, and electives year-round, I feel like we’re doing our kids a disservice by not teaching them Health at school. We can’t just assume that they’re going to naturally pick up healthy lifestyle or learn how to practice wellness from their families. Let’s face it, some families/parents struggle with these health-related choices, too! Some kids have reported to me how their parents are eating healthier with them as a result of an project we’ve done in class.
Even the health-conscious parents may have a difficult time getting through to their kids. I’ve also had countless parents thank me for teaching /influencing their kids because they’ll listen to their teacher more than their parents. Our kids are up against the mixed messages that they get from the media when it comes to Health. For example, in one commercial, they’ll see Michelle Obama promoting healthy school lunches and getting active, then the next commercial will be an add for junk food!
I’ll be okay though… I’m going back to school to add another authorization to my teaching credential. I actually start my first course tomorrow at UC Riverside extenstion to get my Authorization to teach Introductory Science. It should take me about 2 years to complete the program. The toughest part for and my family will the time away from my wife and kids and the $6,900 price tag! This unexpected expense will be a strain on our budget but we’ll be cutting corners at home to try to make it all work. It looks like this old dog will be learning new tricks.