Michael Gove, the coalition Secretary of State for Education (conservative) has said that naughty children should be punished with compulsory exercise. Athletes, sports coaches, teachers and fellow politicians have all slammed the proposal.
Gove’s proposal included guidance that stated “extra physical activity such as running around a playing field” should be used as a form of punishment for children.
At a time when we are trying to get kids more active and learn to love sport and exercise, this sends the wrong message. Punishment is something that is bad, therefore children will associate running around a sports field as something they should not really be doing.
Great Baddow Headteacher says no
Carrie Lynch, head teacher at designated sports college Great Baddow High School, spoke to the Essex Chronicle about these proposals, saying; “Our aim is to promote achievement and this is much more likely to happen when students enjoy their subject. We want young people to value health and fitness throughout their lives so we certainly would not want them to perceive exercise as a punishment.”
Athletes say no
Many runners are shocked that the Secretary of State for Education has such a backward attitude towards sports and exercise. Paula Radcliffee said that the new guidelines were “totally ridiculous”.
Triathlon champion Chrissie Wellington echoed the concerns that using running as a form of punishment will do nothing other than make children loathe sport. She wrote on her blog: “Using physical activity as a punishment is outdated and inappropriate. It will entrench lasting fear and loathing for sport amongst children and young people, running the risk that they will carry negative attitude to physical activity throughout their lives.”
Michael Gove seems desperate to add some discipline to UK schools, but by creating new forms of punishment that are centred around healthy activities he will be responsible for a new generation of couch potatoes who hate exercise.