A Mean Gym Teacher Can Turn You Off Sports
âRemembering Instructors: Play, Pain and Pedagogy,â Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, November 2009
The sadistic gym teacher who belittles students for their sissy push-ups is a sitcom clichÃ©, and it's reasonable to think that someone who hated gym class in middle school might not be a gym rat in later life. William Strean of the University of Alberta nonetheless interviewed 24 subjects to see how influential their gym teachers had been on their later attitudes toward exercise. He found a strong correlation between people who were turned off to physical activity and bad personal experiences with aggressive gym teachers.
By some estimates, as many as 70 percent of children drop out of team sports, many because of negative events like being hit, called names, or pressured to play while injured. Strean's research was intended to determine what aspects of physical activity kids consider positive and negative. As it happens, instructors play a large part. âAlthough it may seem obvious that negative experiences may turn people off future physical-activity opportunities, it is apparently not always so evident to teachers and coaches that they have such an impact,â Strean says. âIt's important that educators realize that a few of their words can build someone's spirit or crush it like a bug.â