Graduate Admissions

FIVE QUESTIONS WITH MARTHA JAMES-HASSAN PROGRAM DIRECTOR, PHYSICAL EDUCATION & KINESIOLOGY

Why is demand increasing for physical education and kinesiology?

Part of it is a reaction to Mrs. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program in schools and the effort to teach kids more about healthy exercise and eating. We need to be focused on community services for addressing issues like the obesity crisis. And with the talk about healthcare costs, it shifts the focus to illness and preventative medicine. Part of preventative medicine is active, healthy lifestyles and positive choice making. Most parents feel like their kids get daily physical education in schools. They don’t. Most administrators and school officials don’t understand how to provide instructional leadership for physical educators. Significant research linking brain function to physical activity and physical literacy is also helping to push the demand. There was a period five or 10 years ago where physical education was being cut across the board. We’re seeing resurgence, and I think that will continue. And with homeschooling and cyber-based learning, I think we’ll see a push for physical education so that students can still come together for physical activity and socialization.

What is it about an advanced degree in this field from Towson that distinguishes it from other programs?

Towson has a strong history in education and an especially strong foothold in this area as THE institute for educating educators. This program in the department of kinesiology is relatively unique in that it is not a master’s in education. It is a master’s of science in kinesiology, which allows us to have a stronger foundation in the sciences, which allows our graduate students to conduct effective research, apply it, and combine it with theory to be more expert. And this degree will let you make more money and earn and maintain tenure.

What makes this program better than a kinesiology program at a medical school?

Kinesiology at a medical school is not a teaching capacity, nor is it working with children. It’s reactive: you’ve got an injury, let’s fix it. Our program is proactive: teach kids to establish healthy lifestyle patterns, self-esteem, healthy body values and images. Our program lets its graduates teach kids how to lead a well life in a culture, community, neighborhood or home that isn’t designed for that.

What’s your favorite thing to teach in this program?

I love teaching about personal and social responsibility. Behaviorally, kids only know what you teach them. With parents so busy, there’s no civility being taught at home or in the community like there was when we grew up. So working with students in a movement setting is a great place to develop self-esteem and then the social responsibility of learning how to move in a group without crashing into each other. I also really like teaching about interdisciplinary education. In my previous career as a K-12 teacher, I worked with a lot of special needs kids. They were all really smart, but they couldn’t communicate what they knew. Our bodies know a lot of stuff; we just don’t have the academic language to express it. Teaching kids how to tap into what their body already knows and using that as a tool for academic, physical and social learning is a favorite piece for me.

How do you see the practical, applied field of physical education and kinesiology growing in the future?

As schools reflect society and society reflects the need of preventative wellness, we’re looking to understand how to keep healthier communities. More and more, people will recognize the need for physical education. Kids don’t know that sometimes the sense of being out of breath isn’t dangerous, it’s just difficult. We give them a car, we give them drugs, we give them sex – that’s not difficult. That’s only dangerous. And they don’t know the difference. I think we’re coming to a point where people have a better understanding of the need for physical fitness.

 




 

 

 

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