Saturday, September 24, 2011

PE Class (Rant)

Remember my grousing about this class? Remember how I was worried about the exercise part of it?  I found my groove, so to speak, in walking, doing sit ups, and using Jeremiah's resistance bands (tubes?). It also helps that I've acquired a high energy puppy who needs a lot of exercise. Early next week I'll start digging the trench for the path around my rose bed. Exercising four to five times a week? With a German Shepherd puppy and a yard to landscape? Easy-peasy. Apart from some muscle soreness, I'm feeling good and I love turning in my weekly exercise logs.

What is not easy, and may be my undoing is--of all things--the written tests. It seems this particular coach is seriously worried about people cheating on his tests so he goes to great lengths to make sure it doesn't happen. I have to have a test proctor, someone outside the family who has a college degree and access to a computer. So I tapped into the local librarian who was only too happy to help (he then required that she give out her private email address instead of using her official business email which was actually attached to her job. When I questioned him on this, he explained that he didn't want anyone else to have access to the information he was sending her. Really? So Yahoo is more secure than a business email?). Quizzes, however, can be taken at home.

I've taken two quizzes now and bombed both which is depressing for this over achiever. His tests and quizzes are made up of "case study" type questions and those questions contain word problems--requiring the use of lengthy mathematical formulas and an in depth understanding of types of exercises (like weight training and the kinds of lifts) and their very specific benefits, not to mention how to apply them. Just one question left my head spinning.

After I bombed the first test, I contacted the coach and asked if we could see which questions we missed on the test.  I have other online courses and the instructors allow this so I know it can be done. He replied that he runs the online classes just like he does his classroom and he doesn't let them see the correct answers to their quizzes or tests either. This too is structured to avoid cheating. Again, this made my head spin a bit. How can a student "fix it" if they don't know what's broken?

I came armed for this week's quiz--with notes containing the formulas, etc. And I still bombed it. I didn't recognize any of the information presented to me. This time I sent him a lengthier email asking some serious questions about the advisability of continuing this course. I also stated that during my first round at college I took numerous PE classes of various types and asked if I could get a waiver based on this. It's not my style to quit, but this is rapidly descending in into the realm of stupid. I'll be damned if I let a two hour PE class blow my 4.0. His response? No--not unless I could prove that the syllabuses in those classes reflected his.

In the first paragraph, he chastised me for missing questions that were contained in the content of the video lecture (suggesting that I'd have done better if I'd watched it). Then, later on in the email, he admitted what I already knew, that there was no video lecture posted this week. He stated that he "gave" everyone two points because of this. I don't even know which questions I missed or why.

For the first time since coming back to college a year and a half ago I am extremely stressed over an upcoming test (covering six chapters). Though we're allowed to use a calculator, we're not allowed to use notes or the book. This would be fine if the formulas we're required to use didn't look like this:

132.853 - (0.0769 × Weight) - (0.3877 × Age) + (6.315 × Gender) - (3.2649 × Time) - (0.1565 × Heart rate)

There are variations on this formula with different numbers depending on what kind of exercise one is doing. And this is just the cardiorespiratory aspect of the test. There are even more formulas connected with the strength training chapter and the one on flexibility. And they're all buried in what he calls "case study" questions--aka lengthy word problems.

If I was a PE major, needing to know all this would make sense. But as I'm not, I cannot imagine any scenario involving my need to exercise in which I would need any or all of these formulas. In other words, I am never, ever going to need to know most of what I'm (supposed to be) learning in this class.

I didn't sign up for this class looking for an easy A, but I didn't expect it to be impossible. I guess I expected to cover the facts and concerns surrounding diet, different kinds of exercise, stress management, and the benefits of all. I expected to have to demonstrate an understanding of how to exercise for specific benefits. But at some point in the last twenty-five years, PE has evolved into an advanced math class--my other "favorite" subject.

Just when I was beginning to think it might be safe to come out of the library and try out the gym . . . 


Debby said...

Thanks for ranting. Can I join too? We have a class on Aging. The teacher is awful. Probably my biggest gripe is listening to her speak out against stereotyping the elderly, speaking out against ageism, but starting each and every class with a stupid comical joke about the pitfalls of aging. For instance, sing this one to "A Few of my Favorite Things":

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillac's and cataracts, and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
T hese are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak,
When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short, shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache,
When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Debby said...

My point to all of MY rant was that she 'teaches' us not to stereotype and then she begins every class with a stereotype. As an 'older' (not to be confused w/ elderly) person in her class, I want to jump up and say, in her prissy voice, "We must be careful not to stereotype," and then respond to the song line by line. I do not knit, I do not have 'dental fittings', I actually have a horror about hoarding. I drive an old car. I do not have cataracts, golf carts, a pacemaker, bunions, and I love jalepenos and chipotle and I always throw a half dozen onions in with the roast, whole, because I love to eat them, sliced, as a vegetable. Just to shatter the myths perpetuated by ageism.

Pencil Writer said...

Wow. I could say a few things about the PE coach. But I think you've probably covered it. Sorry he seems to think so highly of himself and so little of his students. Life has some tough/sharp corners. Best to you in getting over that hump--which-ever way you choose to go. (I just had a weird thought: wonder if he's an "armchair" coach? In reality. He doesn't sound like a people kinda guy.) :/

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary. Wow. I agree with Debby and PW. DavidM.

Mary O. Paddock said...

Deb--I completely understand. This is my sore point with the university this time around. Perhaps this is how it was twenty years ago too and I just missed it, but it seems to me that instructors are less accountable than they should be. They can teach badly and still get paid--stand in front of classrooms and rattle on and on and teach nothing--and still get paid. And they can bring their (anti/pro) religious or political opinions to class and force students to embrace them for the sake of a grade and--still get paid. Not, not, not okay.

PW--I gave up and dropped the class on Monday. I was going to stick it out until after the first test, but concluded that was silly too. I will re-take the class on campus with a different instructor or see if I can get a waiver.

DavidM! Hello! How are you? And thank you. I agree too.