Even a small bit of think-through exposes some gargantuan problems with this idea, though. First of all, the school system would completely kill the joy and leave the entire enterprise tainted. But even more importantly, Morris dance does not really exist in isolation. It is not about learning a specific skill set, it's about performing a role in a community. It's about having an identity as a member of a team. An imposed and required session of gym class would not make a team. No, this would be neither fun nor good.
But once I started thinking along these lines, of how much we could have learned in terms of physical skills in the context of a daily gym class, I found myself getting pointlessly angry. Gym class is one of those things for me that completely left my mind and consciousness the minute I walked away (not just on graduation, but every single day), so it's not as if this is a lingering lifetime resentment. No, this resentment is new. And the resentment is: What an astonishing and horrific waste of time and opportunity gym class was. My gosh, nearly five hours a week every single week was completely stolen from a period of our lives that wasn't all that rich in time to begin with.
I don't have the horror stories of humiliation and ostracism that many others have told about gym class. I even have some very happy memories of standing in the back of the volleyball court with my friend Russell where we tried to come up with ideas for Busby Berkeley dance routines that used the paraphernalia of the gymnasium (chorines dressed in giant jock straps!). I had no drill-sargent gym teachers trying to make a man out of me; I mostly remember nice guys who just wanted to play sports. This may sound odd in retrospect, but as far as I can recall my gym teachers treated me as I remember most of my teachers treating me: with a sort of respect and deference. Seriously. I didn't enjoy their games and they didn't push it. I showed up and participated minimally and that was our compromise. So no wonder I don't remember great resentment at the time.
But now, thinking back? What on earth was that all about? What an absolute and complete and inexcusable fricking waste of time that all was.
Could I possibly be the only one who thinks so?