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setting a bad example

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | May 10, 2008

Yesterday I went running on the jr. high school track by my home, which I often do.   I saw the most astonishing thing—and unfortunately, it’s the second time I’ve seen it.   The kids came out to play flag football, followed slowly by their P.E. teacher.   Think about your own P.E. teacher when you were a kid.   This one was not like yours, I can almost guarantee you.   He had a kid carrying a chair for him, and he proceeded to sit in it, on the football field, and remain seated throughout the breakout games of football.   He was obese and had difficulty walking up to the field.

Last year, I  saw an obese female P.E. teacher at the same school do the same thing (but the kids were running sprints).    About that same time, I sat on the founding board of a charter high school, and we were looking to hire a  P.E. teacher.   An experienced applicant came to interview us who confessed to severe cardiac disease and was clearly going to be the chair-sitting variety of teacher/coach.   After he left, I informed my colleagues that I do not want to hire an obese P.E. teacher.   They seemed offended and one told me that is “discriminatory.”

I said, “If we were hiring an English teacher who hasn’t read the classics and can’t write, I’d ‘discriminate’ against her, too.   I’m going to resist hiring a math teacher who can’t calculate algebraic equations.   So why is it too much to ask that the P.E. teacher be able to jog a lap, or do a layup?”

We are setting such a bad example for our kids.   If they look around them, they could easily get the idea that life is more or less over by the age of 40 for the majority of us.   How many of their teachers (P.E. or otherwise) are teaching from their chairs?   This is a travesty.   Even if we’re okay with our virtually chair-bound lives limiting us from doing much of anything fun by the time we hit 40, we should make massive lifestyle changes even for just the ONE REASON of setting a better example.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here.   You moms and dads reading this who are willing to buck the larger culture, you are CHANGING THE WORLD for the better, one green smoothie at a time!   Obesity and heart disease will be a thing of the past when we return to a whole-foods diet, and we get out and enjoy moving around.

Posted in: Parenting, Standard American Diet

5 thoughts on “setting a bad example”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    That is sad. It is fantastic that you stood up for your opinion on the board! And thanks for the encouragement 🙂 I like the idea that one green smoothie at a time really does make a difference! I get caught up thinking that I have to be perfect nutritionally in order to make a difference.

  2. You are SO right! The PE teachers I remember (I’m 47) were ALWAYS in the best of shape. And it’s just plain wrong for the PE teachers to not lead by example.

    I’m happy to say that my husband and I are teaching our kids that your late 40s are still a time of physical exploration and challenge. At 12 and 14, I don’t know that they really “get” that we are different, but that’s just fine with me.

    Keep up your great work, Robyn!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well, I’m 33 and I remember my pe teachers being in shape as well. And I am happy to report that my husband is eatting 75% raw- he’s only eatting meat a few times a week, and is okay with the fact that I am never buying meat again. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. http:// says:

    I grew up mostly in Europe and everyone over 40 and even 60 for that matter rode bikes, walked and was always outside. Our Dance and PE teachers ran US into the ground. We couldn’t keep up with THEM!

    So glad you stood up. I hope it helped in making the CORRECT decision!

  5. http:// says:

    We did eventually hire a physically fit P.E. teacher, yea! Incidentally, the teacher we interviewed in the story above also wanted to teach the U.S. government’s food pyramid as a “nutrition” course. I don’t even bother trying to counteract that in a public setting, because it’s a lost battle before it begins. We have to teach correct principles AT HOME.

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