Here’s the deal. For many years I supplemented my income by tutoring. I’d typically work with 3rd through 6th graders and one of the most common questions I was asked was, “Why do I need to know this?” I would tell the children that they need to know basic language arts and math skills just to function as an adult. I would tell them that they might need to know Biology if they decided to be a doctor when they grew up. They might need to know Computer Science if they grow up to design video games. And they might need to know History if they grow up and find out that no one is willing to buy their hilarious screenplays and that they have to supplement their income by tutoring History.
But I don’t know why they would need to know how to climb up a rope.
There was a time when every school gymnasium in the country had a rope hanging from the ceiling…and many still do. A long strand of twine leading to nowhere. Traditionally the P.E. rope climb serves three educational purposes: (1) to promote anxiety and dread in the student as they anticipate their turn and watch the coach yelling at the other kids to scale the rope, (2) to humiliate and ostracize those children with below average upper arm strength and (3) to foster rope burns on the hands and inner thighs as these youngsters slide back to Earth after their ascension.
There may or may not have also been an athletic component to the activity.
Whatever the thought process, I’m sure there are less humiliating and ridiculous ways to work those muscles. This must be the most useless thing we’re taught in school. When are we ever going to need to climb a rope in life? When, other than in a junior high gym, would we even have the opportunity to climb a rope in life? And why did educators decide that our nation’s youth must have this virtually worthless skill set?
If P.E. class were any indication, kids would think that their parent’s commute to work involved tip-toeing across balance beams, climbing a rope up to their office, and leaping to avoid dodge balls as they run down the hall to get their morning coffee. Granted, work might be a little more exciting if this were the case, but the health care coverage for rope burns would skyrocket.
So, how am I going to do it? How will I put an end to this sadistic practice? For years I’ve been petitioning school districts to implement more practical physical education programs – activities that the kids will actually be able to use when they get older. Stretching exercises for increased stamina at those long DMV lines, running after your toddler before they use that crayon to draw purple monkeys on the wall again, carrying four grocery bags in one hand and hopscotch (okay, hopscotch isn’t particularly useful…but gosh darned if it ain’t fun). Yes, I’ve been trying to change the system, but nobody listens. Frankly, I’m at the end of my rope.