Eliminating the “Extra” from Extracurricular Activities

Why do we not give P.E. credit for participating in football? Or any of the other various sports requiring physical activity? The kids are far more active in football than they are in the P.E. class. We are paying someone, sometimes a certified teacher, to oversee the activity. And, by the end of the season, the kids can easily meet any of the physical activity benchmarks used in P.E. class. So, why not?

Similarly, why do we not give a social studies credit (or a ¼ or something) for participating in student government or model UN? Why not an English credit for participating in student newspaper, yearbook, or debate? Science credit for robotics club or future farmers? You get my point.

Serious question. I’m asking for help in answering it.

You see, I’m helping a high school right now reallocate the schedule and the credit hours. We are trying to be creative in meeting the standards. As the students get more physical activity in the extracurricular sports teams than they do in physical education class, we are struggling to understand why we need to keep P.E. for those students. Or, alternatively, if there is something special about P.E. regarding physical activity, then why do we need to keep football? Also, for students doing student newspaper, we would like to give them a ½ of an English credit, perhaps.

We struggle so much with scheduling and the Carnegie credit hours assigned to each hour of the day. But extracurricular activities already provide us a mechanism by which to both extend the school day and integrate more of the community into the activity. Football is already a project-based learning activity, with the project being to win the regional championship or something like that. So is yearbook. So is robotics. And, while we are at it, this approach also individualizes the instruction. Logistically difficult, I get that, but potentially a large payoff if you can figure it out. And, this approach is probably logistically easier than just trying to build all of this school reform from scratch.

If we drop the “extra” from extracurricular and just integrate all these great activities into the school curriculum, we will have a great head start on doing the kinds of things we want to do with schools anyway. At the same time we give credit to kids for their hard work and their participation with the community activity. Seems like a pretty good solution to me, but I am happy to hear all opinions.

photocredit: Flickr - lsommerer

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