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Moot Points: Literal interpretations can be painful

October 21, 2014 Shawn Tschritter

As a physical education specialist at an elementary school a few years back, I had the opportunity to instruct each and every student in the school population, including the academic challenge (AC) classes.

As part of every PE class, I had taught my students in grades 1 through 6 the importance of taking some time to participate in a good warm-up. At the time this included a stretching routine after a brief jog. As part of the instruction of the stretches, I had told and reminded my classes that a good stretching technique should never hurt or be overly uncomfortable or perhaps they were taking the stretch past the point that they should.

A few weeks into the school year I was outside with one of the AC Grade 1 classes. As the entire class was dutifully performing our routine, I heard a low “ouch, ouch” coming from the group. Not sure where it came from, we continued only to have the sound occur yet again. This time I was able to pinpoint the source: one of my Grade 1 boys was in some discomfort with each stretch. Since he was one to always follow instructions to a T, I was surprised that this particular student was in fact not following my directions and was taking his young muscles past the proper range of motion. I immediately called him over and reminded him of our rule. His response to me has never left my memory or failed to bring a smile to my face when I recall it: “But my homeroom teacher said that in the AC program we sometimes have to stretch further than normal.”

Shawn Tschritter is a physical education teacher at Ellerslie Campus in Edmonton.

Moot Points is your chance to write about a funny incident, a lesson learned or a poignant experience related to teaching. Please email articles to managing editor Cory Hare:

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