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Sports, arts and activities

Misconceptions about PE – “It’s not about dodgeball”

It’s easy. It’s a soft option. It’s all about dodgeball.

Misconceptions around Physical Education are common, and many students worry it won’t help them get into university.

The opposite is true according to ACG Parnell College PE teacher Daniel Mathie who says the subject’s scientific nature makes it the ideal precursor to high-level courses including medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy and psychology.

It also gives an understanding of how the body works at a cellular level, providing an invaluable insight into exercise, training and a healthier life.

He says students who consider it an easy option may get a shock to the system.

“They think it’s like that multiple choice Anthropology paper in stage one university, and then they get a rather rude awakening. Others think it is all about dodgeball, which we never touch, I might add.”

He says PE at the higher levels is deeply science based, covering anatomy and psychology and going more in-depth into the physiology of the human body than even Biology.

“It’s a paper recommended by AUT for Physiotherapy, but would give any pre-med student a leg up over the competition.”

Former head boy Het Shah is currently studying a Bachelor of Exercise Physiology at the University of New South Wales. Aspiring to a career in sports medicine, he took PE through to Year 13.

“I chose it over other subjects because I wanted to do something in the science field that was not engineering. I dropped physics, and knew PE would be a good subject alongside chemistry and biology to broaden my knowledge,” he explained.

He said the course balanced theoretical assessments calling for high-quality paragraph answers – a skill crucial for university – with hands-on analysis and practical work.

“One of the highlights for me was the fact that you get to play your own sport and then create an action plan to coach yourself,” Het explained.

Former student Laura Hunter has a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Otago and is undertaking a Doctor of Dental Medicine post graduate degree at the University of Sydney. Her long-term goal is to go be a specialist.

“I can happily say some of the content I learned from AS and A level PE still pops up in the courses I am doing now,” she says. “The knowledge from PE, in particular the musculoskeletal topic, was a great foundation and allowed me to build an understanding of anatomy rather than only being exposed to it for the first time at university level.”

At school, Laura chose it as an extra on top of her other A Level subjects.

“I took Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics and Economics. I would say PE has just as much relevance to a health science course as any of those other subjects.”