New tool for grading Iowa kids in gym class? Heart rate monitors

No more slacking in PE -- at least not in the schools in Dubuque, Iowa. Starting this year, the district will require students to wear the devices.

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Is this how your kid gets his fitness grade? ABC News screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You only pumped a 47?

(Mom tugs at Herbert's ear.)

You shame me! You shame this whole family! A 47? Your grandmother could pump a 47 and she's dead!

(Mom tugs harder at Herbert's ear.)

This is the sort of encounter I envisage between parents and the teens who attend high schools in Dubuque, Iowa.

The Dubuque Community School District, you see, has decided that starting this year middle- and high-school students must wear heart monitors in gym class to see if they're really making an effort to lose their quarterpounders, macs and cheeses.

As ABC's "Good Morning America" explained it, the results will be transferred to an iPad and projected onto a big screen in the gym.

I can imagine that feelings will be torn about this exercise.

You see, their measured gym performance is to become part of the students' report card.

Dubuque Schools Athletic and Wellness Director Amy Hawkins told WLEC Radio: "It will be a large portion of their grade, because we want to grade them on what they're actually doing in our class. It really takes the opinion out of things. You know it's not really 'I think your kid is doing this and this in class.'"

CNET contacted the school district to find out whether kids would be required to wear the monitors. Mike Cyze, director of school and community relations for the district, said: "For students, use of the monitors will be a component of the course assessment and, like all other assessment tools, will be a necessary part of the course for each student."

Some modernists will laud this as a move toward gamification. Kids love anything that is less real and more a game.

However, the idea of projecting the results onto a large screen surely offers the more fit and the ones more amused by bullying to prey on those who, for whatever reason, might not be as healthy.

Ultimately, some might regard this as health information, something not to be so publicly bared. Moreover, if this is deemed a success, how much more health information will be obtained and publicized?

Might someone have the idea of hooking up the kids to a brain monitor, just to see where their heads are at?

Perhaps, though, when it comes to our overall health, we are just a number.

I can't help thinking, however, about all the sports teams who regularly examine players by putting them through every possible data analysis.

One day, a player they rejected because of poor data, becomes a star. "How did that happen?" they wonder.

 

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