Author: Steve Jefferies

Lessons Physical and Health Educators Should Learn from the 2016 Election

No matter your political preference, the results of the 2016 election surprised everyone. And while I don’t claim to be a political pundit – why would I since pretty much every prediction was wrong – I believe physical and health educators should learn an important lesson from this recent election.

Regardless of what you might think about the qualifications of either candidate or the two parties they represent, what’s striking is how effective Mr. Trump was and how ineffective Mrs. Clinton was in capturing voting support.

Please click here to read the full essay that was originally published on the GOPHER PE Blog. What do you think? Share your comments below this essay on PHE America.

It’s Kids, Health, and Physical Activity Stupid

Five years ago my wife and I moved into a new house. It was first time construction for us and turned out a pretty intense experience. Fortunately, when we started two years earlier we knew what we wanted the finished house to look like. Together, we sketched out a design. We then got our doodles translated into construction blueprints and hired a contractor. We chose a builder after looking at projects he’d previously completed. The homes were attractive, beautifully built, and he convinced us that he could translate our vision into reality.

Turns out we were right. We love where we now live and guests routinely compliment us on the beautiful wooden cathedral ceiling, open floor plan, unobstructed mountain and water views, and the house’s overall appearance. To date, no one has yet commented on how well our home meets the latest ISO or ICC construction standards. Now obviously, it’s important to know and follow proper building standards. Our construction crew impressed us with their skills, knowledge, and professionalism. As the house evolved it was obvious to us they weren’t just making up the various steps, but knew and were following some sort of building standards. We weren’t much interested in knowing or checking these standards but noticed that from time-to-time someone else would.

Foundation checks, framing checks, plumbing checks, electrical checks and so on followed the site, drawing, engineering, and other approvals. Now I’m not a builder, but I imagine this heavily checkered list was intended to ensure the builders followed best practices and met national construction standards: Presumably all with our best interests as future home owners in mind. And following proper building protocol was mostly a good thing, except of course when a particular standard was prescribed, yet made no sense in our situation. In construction as in other life areas, it turns out sticking stubbornly to standards isn’t always the perfect solution.

SHAPE America’s 50 Million Strong is a Vision not a Prescription

There’s a memorable scene in the popular Sandra Bullock movie “Miss Congeniality” in which she’s asked, “What is the one most important thing our society needs?” The audience greets her first response with confused looks and silence so Bullock’s character quickly adds “and world peace.” The mood of the room instantly transforms. The crowd smiles and enthusiastically applauds. World peace was a vision that struck a very visceral emotional connection. What’s not to like about world peace? It’s something society obviously needs and for most of us well worth supporting.

Noticeably, the reaction of the listening audience wasn’t to pause and demand a definition of “world peace.” They had no problem understanding the intent. Similarly, who among us has any problems understanding what it means to be educated, hard working, ethical, trustworthy, competitive, dependable, organized and so on. We don’t need definitions. We get it. Sure, we each have slightly different perspectives on what exactly these words mean, but in general we GET IT!

Why then is the notion of getting kids physically active and healthy (which is what 50 MS represents) proving so hard for some people to understand and support? It’s no different from “world peace.” Yes, we can slice and dice the vision up in an effort to come to some sort of precise definition but to what purpose? Who needs it? Just as all of us likely support “world peace,” surely all PHE professionals can agree that “getting kids physically active and healthy” is a good thing to rally behind.

pelinks4u becomes PHE America

At long last I’m delighted, excited, and not-the-least bit relieved to share the rebirth of pelinks4u into a completely redesigned format and to announce a new name.

PHE America

When I created pelinks4u in 1999 the Internet was still new. Heck, Mark Zuckerberg the Facebook creator was a 15-year old high schooler! But it quickly became clear that the Web was going to be a great way to share professional information. For the past almost 18 years, pelinks4u has tried to keep teachers updated with links to helpful teaching information. We’ve also published hundreds of articles with how-to tips and personal reflections on ways to advance the profession.

Today, it’s time to move on. Search engines such as Google make finding information easy and our efforts to provide “links” a bit redundant. New formats for publishing have evolved. There’s now no reason to restrict an online publication to a monthly format. It makes sense to add information as it becomes available. But most of all, to attract and retain readers a publication has to be easy to use.

What Exactly is 50 Million Strong by 2029?

(This essay was originally published on SHAPE America’s member Exchange [April, 2016] and is reprinted with permission.)

For much of the past year as SHAPE America president, I’ve written extensively about 50 Million Strong by 2029. Since announcing 50 Million Strong to great fanfare at last year’s national convention, SHAPE America board members and staff have made every effort to explain exactly what it is at state conferences, on Exchange, in news releases and social media, and elsewhere. Collectively, we’ve traveled thousands of miles, devoted hundreds of hours, and spoken countless times in an effort to mobilize the physical education and health education professions to support what is in reality a revolutionary change in what we do.

Clearly however, communicating exactly what this change means to others is not easy. In puzzling over the challenge, I was reminded of the party game in which guests try to guess a song title. You remember? Someone tries to tap out a well-known tune on a table. Despite “hearing” the tune clearly in one’s head it’s often impossible to get others to recognize it.