Awaken the Sleeping Giant

By Alex Slezak – M.Ed, YFS, YSAS, HSSCS

A while ago I wrote an article entitled There is a Sleeping Giant Among Us. The article basically stated that Physical Education programs in our schools are just waiting to forever change the youth fitness landscape. I want to tell you all right now exactly how to awaken this sleeping giant and change the disastrous course of health so many of our youth are on.

I am not going to tell you this to toot my own horn, but if you visited my Physical Education program, and many have done so, what goes on is pretty impressive. So it would make perfect sense that if what I do is so good, everyone should be doing the same thing, right? WRONG! What I created is my own; it is unique to my personality, education, knowledge, experience, and students. It also is constantly evolving because I am committed to getting better.

Physical Education

A wonderful friend and mentor of mine, Chuck Kriese, taught me a long time ago that there are basically two ways to manage people, either from the top-down or the bottom-up. Top-down management would be someone purchasing a program and forcing you to implement it. I know what I feel like when I am forced to do something and I don’t like it. Top-down management also results in people who are unengaged and lacking passion in their work because there is no empowerment. Then you have the opposite, bottom-up management. The bottom-up style would be giving a person a task, providing them with all the resources available to help complete it, and giving them the flexibility to make it their own. Bottom-up management is all about empowering those around you. I don’t know about you but I love freedom because I get to take ownership, my reputation is on the line, and I get to express myself through my work. Bottom-up is exactly how I built my physical education program and that is the reason why it is so successful. The true key to power is empowering others. In fact, when I think about it my teaching style is all about empowering children to take charge of their health.

So if you want to know how to awaken the sleeping giant in your own physical education or community the secret is you have to build it from the bottom-up and make it your own. Take the time to learn anything and everything, especially from wise people inside the IYCA. Take the time to think about your coaching or teaching philosophies. Take the time to get to know the youth you will be servicing. Finally, be patient and take the time to build it from the bottom-up. Nothing truly worthwhile comes quick and easy. Real value comes with time, suffering, and sacrifice. There is no shortcut to things of value.

It certainly will not be easy but waking the sleeping giant is possible and it will not be done by just one person overnight. It will be done by many people from a bottom-up grassroots movement. If you are reading this article and part of the IYCA you are learning, getting better, and becoming empowered with the knowledge and motivation to awaken the sleeping giant near you.

Alex is a Physical Education teacher and operates a tennis & fitness training business in Pittsburgh, PA. You can learn more by visiting his website at www.AlexSlezak.com.

One Response

  1. Greg Perez says:

    I agree with the Sleeping Giant article. Physical Education programs are not what they used to be. Schools are constantly putting more emphasis on high stakes testing and as time proceeds PE is being cut. I do believe it does start at the top with National Standards. What are our common goals as PE teachers? We need a National Standard rather than small pockets of great programs. There are so many best practices that occur within the IYCA and other programs, they must be shared. Fitness assessments need to be revisited and experts need to be apart of that movement. As a former PE teacher it was my responsibility to not only have my student active but it was just as important to teach them social skills and build character through sport. PE teachers have the ability to inspire and have students demonstrate hard work that can be seen first hand. Quality Physical Education programs need to be equitable for all young people.

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