physical education

In most educational systems, physical education (P.E.) class, also called physical training (PT) and Phys Ed, is a course that utilizes learning in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains in a play or movement exploration setting. The term physical education is most commonly used in this way; however, this denotes rather that "they have participated in the subject area, not studied it.

The primary aims of physical education have varied, based on the needs of the time and place. Most modern schools' goal is to equip students with the knowledge, skills, capacities, and values along with the enthusiasm to maintain a healthy lifestyle into adulthood. Some schools also require physical education as a way to promote weight loss in students. Activities included in the program are designed to promote physical fitness, to develop motor skills, to instill knowledge and understanding of rules, concepts, and strategies, and to teach students to work as part of a team, or as individuals, in a wide variety of competitive activities.

School curriculum

In the United States, the physical education curriculum is designed to allow school pupils exposure to the following categories of activities: aquatics, conditioning activities, gymnastics, individual/dual sports, team sports, rhythms, and dance. The technology movement has spilled over into the field of physical education with the use of pedometers, GPS, and heart rate monitors. Some martial arts classes, like wrestling in the United States, and Pencak Silat in France and Malaysia, are also offered to teach students self-defense and to feel good about themselves. On July 18, 1975, the United States House of Representatives voted to require school physical education classes include both genders. Some high school and some middle school PE classes are single-sex. Requiring individuals to participate in physical education activities, such as dodgeball, flag football, and other competitive sports remains a controversial subject because of the social impact these games have on young children.

In Singapore, pupils from primary school through junior colleges are required to have 2 hours of PE every school week, except during examination seasons. Pupils are able to play games like football, badminton, 'captain's ball' and basketball during most sessions. Unorthodox sports such as tchoukball, fencing and skateboarding are occasionally played. In more prestigious secondary schools and in junior colleges, sports such as golf, tennis, shooting, squash are played. A compulsory fitness exam, NAPFA, is conducted in every school once every year to assess the physical fitness of the pupils. Pupils are given a series of fitness tests (Pull-ups/ Inclined pull-ups for girls, standing broad jump, sit-ups, sit-and-reach and 1.2 km for secondary/2.4 km for junior colleges run). Students are graded by gold, silver, bronze and fail. NAPFA for Year 2 males in junior colleges serves as an indicator for an additional 2 months in the country's compulsory national service if they attain bronze or fail.

In Scotland, pupils are expected to do two periods of P.E. in first year, one in second year and two in third and fourth year. In fifth and sixth year, P.E. is voluntary.

In England, pupils are expected to do two hours of P.E a week in Year 7, 8 and 9 and at least 1 in year 10 and 11.

In Wales, pupils are expected to do one hour of P.E per fortnight.


The majority of schools require pupils to change into a different set of athletic shoes or go barefoot depending on the sport. Some schools allow students to change into athletic clothes of their own choosing while others require a uniform. A common uniform consists of a white t-shirt and shorts in the school color, but this is not a universal rule. At some Catholic schools, modest clothing is required. For safety, some schools require males to wear a jock strap as part of the physical education uniform. Some schools allow male students to go barechested when they are outside during a hot day. Most uniformed classes require the student to label their clothes with their names.

Certain activities require a special uniform. For example, some schools require swimming as part of the physical education curriculum. In this case, students have to wear a bathing suit in either the school color or black with a swimming cap of the same color. It was not uncommon for schools to allow or require male or female students to swim in the nude if the class was single-sex. Also, in games with two or more teams, students usually have to wear colored jerseys or cape-like garments over the usual uniform as a way of identifying team member.

Some schools are more lenient and pupils can wear tracksuit bottoms, three-quarter lengths or even shorts, with a t-shirt of their choice as long as there is no football, rugby etc colours.


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