From PE to Pride

// 18 July 2006

How can teenage girls be persuaded to embrace PE, asks this Guardian article.

It turns out that the answer is a combination of a fun-based approach and less tiny sports uniforms.

I recommend reading the whole feature, but here is an excerpt:

Recent research at Loughborough University has shown that there are specific things that arouse their resistance to traditional school PE lessons. The first culprit is the horrible kit – most girls loathe having to reveal their bodies in skimpy games skirts and embarrassing PE knickers. The second is the cold weather. The third is the super-hearty, if not bullying, attitude of the archetypal games teacher. And the fourth is the nature of the activities traditionally on offer – many girls dislike the competitive nature of team sports and the requirement to perform in front of others in athletics.

Underlying these negative feelings, there is, as Dr Tess Kay of Loughborough University explains in her research, “a mismatch between girls’ view of their bodies as passive and decorative and the use of the body as active and functional in sport”. For any strategy to succeed in persuading girls into sport it has to take account of their complex and often hugely unconfident feelings about their own developing femininity.

The journalist visits a school which has revolutionised its approach to the dreaded “Games” lessons, to include street dance, martial arts, football and rugby.

She also points to research showing that girls like to be streamed for ability.

For anyone who, like me, both dreaded and stunk at all competitive sport (especially netball), this will make you whistfully wish you’d attended a more enlightened school.

In other news, Manchester wants to charge people £50 a head to join the Pride march, The Independent reports.

How cynical to charge such a high fee, or indeed any fee at all, for something like that.

Next month’s 10-day Manchester Pride festival, now in its 12th year, is expected to attract 100,000 people to the city centre. But for the first time, organisers are insisting that the costs of crowd control and additional policing, which have grown with the event, demand that individuals or non-commercial groups on the event’s march through the city must pay.

The decision has angered many in the lesbian and gay community. Gordon Pleasant, one of the organisers of Manchester’s first Mardi Gras parades in the early 1990s, said he was particularly appalled at the idea of those with HIV and Aids being asked to pay. “I always believed that you could not put a price on certain things, like human dignity and pride,” he said.

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