Editorial: P.E. vocab requires retention for impact

While Spokesman commends the physical education (P.E.) teachers for incorporating vocabulary into more departments of the school besides English, the terms need to be incorporated in more meaningful ways and be used more often to create a lasting impact on the students.

The P.E. classes’ curriculum now incorporates learning the 100 most commonly used words on the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE). After looking through WHS’s test scores data, the idea seems genius. Only 42.4 percent of WHS students met reading standards on the PSAE.

However, the idea lacks in one major area: overestimating students’ ability of memorization.

Though the vocabulary words on the announcements are a great idea, they only stay on the screen for 30 seconds before flashing to today’s lunch menu. In addition, some some P.E. teachers only repeat their words right before activities. While short can be deemed “sweet,” it doesn’t help in education.

In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus, psychologist, proved that we will forget up to 90 percent of what we learn without the use of repetition and the quality of memory representation.

Ebbinghaus calls this the forgetting curve and shows that it helps when people relate what they know to something that is important to them because connecting ideas allows for better memory retention.

By adapting more holistic learning, the students will hold a better retention for the vocabulary words. Instead of pounding information into the students’ brains before the badminton lesson, we should focus on weaving the knowledge into other things we already understand.

The P.E. department has started this process by hanging posters around the gym and printing the words on the back of fitness cards.

However, Spokesman would like to see more of a bridged gap into incorporating words into conversations throughout the workout rather than just stating them. It is also highly important for students to take learning the vocab words seriously; learning these words could help their future greatly, whether it be incorporating them into cover letters, resumes, job interviews or receiving higher test scores.

The process laid out by the P.E. department has been an excellent step in the right direction to help our school. We have always struggled with lower testing scores, but this gives us a higher chance to improve as we look at vocabulary all throughout our day at WHS.

We have had a great start with this new program, but the terms need to be incorporated more for a lasting impact.