'Wellness' should be on the school curriculum and go far beyond PE: Michael Crinnion

When I was a classroom teacher, I was often asked “Why are we learning this, sir?” Maybe, you even asked it yourself at school.

I made it a personal policy to always answer this question. It’s a very good question and if you can’t answer it robustly, you should probably take another look at your curriculum.

I am a strong advocate of the collective effect of a diverse curriculum on the brain, and so rarely found it hard to defend almost any area of the school curriculum.

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Ok, so now close your eyes (after reading this bit, of course) and cast your mind back to your school days.

Michael Crinnion shares his viewsMichael Crinnion shares his views
Michael Crinnion shares his views

Pick out a few things you learned that were useful.

It’s likely the things that spring to mind were enjoyable and now make up a part of your everyday life, either in work or play. They shaped who you are today.

What is the relevance of this?

Well, what we learn and enjoy at school shapes our futures more than most of us probably realise.

It is the skills and interests we are exposed to during this formative time that drive us forward into the people we will eventually become.

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This is the purpose of education; to prepare you for life. Otherwise, why are we even doing it?Then why do we not have a curriculum area dedicated to wellness?

“But, we already have PE for that” I hear you cry.

I imagine quite a few of those crying are PE teachers.

Don’t worry, I love PE - lots of my friends are PE teachers.

But really, PE is about your physical fitness - I mean, it’s in the name.

Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this - there is so much more to wellness than being physically fit.

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Sure, we cover many of the topics in other places - nutrition and sleep in biology, exercise during sports, maybe relationships in whatever we’ve decided to call PHSE that week.

But the truth is, it’s not given anywhere near the importance it needs to have.

Over the years, as educators and policy makers have come to realise these things are important they have been slotted piecemeal into gaps and cracks within other subjects. This isn’t good enough.

It needs to have the same importance as literacy and numeracy.

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Without wellness - all other skills and knowledge lose their potency.

Wellness is the foundation on which all of our future happiness and success is built. It is the cornerstone.

It’s time we carved out a real space in the curriculum for the many mental, physical, emotional, financial, social and environmental factors that affect our wellness and, more importantly, that we can affect.

This means dedicated lessons time for wellness right through all ages, so that it becomes as natural and normal to do a breathing exercise when stressed as it does to use maths to calculate a solution to a problem.

And just think how easy it will be to answer the question “Why are we learning this?”

“So you can be happy.”

Michael Crinnion is CEO & Founder of Mind Body Goals

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