What Students Learned in Gym Class

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This book explores how personal experiences in mandatory K-12 physical education classes affect adult health and exercise habits. It offers a platform of understanding into the diverse experiences of gym class and how these experiences can produce repercussions throughout life.


"This book provided me with a vivid reminder of the responsibilities of a good (professional) Physical Education teacher.…The author skillfully cites studies supporting many of the issues and policies creating the variety of approaches taken by many of our Physical Educators."
- Prof. Paul. S. Weiss, Queensborough Community College/ CUNY

“This book comes at an important time as we battle this nation’s health crisis... In a systematic way, Dr. Virginia Cowen offers a delightful read with funny and insightful stories of real experiences that uncover some of the gaps in physical education in the United States.”
- Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, PhD, American Heart Association

“a detailed picture that exposes failures in transmitting that which has been recommended by pedagogical experts... Through this exposure Dr. Cowen offers, what I believe is her most important contribution, insight into alternative approaches... for inspiring life long physical activity.”
- Prof. Megan Anne Todd, Arizona State University

Table of Contents


Chapter 1
Skills and Curriculum: Surviving the Sports-Based Overt Gym Curriculum and the Subtle Messages of the Covert Curriculum

Chapter 2
T.E.A.M.: The Hazards and Benefits of Team Sports Activities in Gym

Chapter 3
The Cheese Stands Alone: The Process of Choosing Teams for Gym Class Activities

Chapter 4
Self Perception and Self-esteem: How Gym Class Activities Can Impact Confidence About Movement

Chapter 5
Teachers and Teaching: Giving Gym Teachers Adequate Training and Resources to Provide Instruction in Gym

Chapter 6
Marginalization and Avoidance: How Students Get Sidelined in Gym

Chapter 7
Staring Down the Bullies: Teasing and Acting Out In and Around the Gym

Chapter 8
Testing 1-2-3: Grading and the Use of Fitness and Skills Tests in Gym

Chapter 9
Costumes: Perceptions of Gym Uniforms

Chapter 10
Winners and Losers: Feelings about Competition in Gym

Chapter 11
Gang Showers, Puberty, and Rumors: Issues Surrounding Changing and Bathing at School

Chapter 12
Growing Up: How Gym Class Can Affect Adult Exercise and Physical Activity Participation


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