Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Heart-healthy but obnoxious

So now, in addition to learning about the dangers of smoking, and drinking, and taking drugs, and trusting strangers, and engaging in unsafe sex, schoolchildren are about to start getting lessons on heart disease and the lazy, gluttonous behavior that brings it on. Which is all well and good, as far as it goes. Certainly, promoting healthy habits of eating and exercise among young people is a worthy goal. But I can see a couple of problems coming down the road here: One is that, whereas students may not know whether their teachers smoke or drink or do any of those other things they are instructing their students never to do, if a teacher is out of shape and overweight and otherwise clearly not respecting his or her own heart-health, it's kinda hard to miss. Will they be effective preachers of something they manifestly don't practice? And my other fear -- remembering only too vividly how zealous my kids can get, after receiving the appropriate instruction in school, about how nobody should ever drink or smoke, and how it's tolerable mostly because those are not my particular vices -- is that children will come home and start analyzing their parents' diet and workout regimes. Which is, of course, exactly what the health powers-that-be who are designing these programs are hoping for -- improved fitness for the whole family. But I'll tell you, if my kids are going to be lecturing me every time I eat a bite of cheesecake or sit in front of the TV instead of jogging around the block, I'm going to have to start thinking seriously about homeschooling.

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