Years ago I tried kickboxing and felt like a very sweaty, very dangerous version of a dancing Elaine from Seinfeld, limbs flailing left and right in no particular rhythm. Since then I have fallen from skis, bikes, and even my own two feet. I’ve always wanted to try yoga, but I didn’t care to be the uncoordinated wreck at the back of the room ruining everyone else’s chi.
So I got a Wii Fit. I can now make a fool of myself in the name of exercise from the comfort of my own living room. But a strange thing has happened. I’m learning and actually getting better each time. (My dog doesn’t run from the room anymore.)
In so many ways, this enlightened little balance board is a better teacher than me. After seven years of teaching I can’t keep my Kaylas, Kaiyas, Kaylins, or Kyras straight, but my Wii Fit always addresses me by name. Regardless of the weather, the husband, the car, or the bills, my trainer is always ready to go and focused solely on my progress. I’m frequently encouraged; it’s a great example of the powerful combination of visual and auditory instruction. On top of that, the lessons are scaffolded, motivating, and, I dare say, differentiated.
Is there anything I do as well as Nintendo’s latest hit? The students do seem to walk all over me...
But I really know I can’t compete when it comes to grading. This machine simultaneously records every step, every waver, every rep and provides instantaneous feedback. Meanwhile, I’m lucky if I can return quizzes from 2nd marking period before graduation this June; my students have stopped asking.
I think there is a lot to be said for the enviable feedback of video games. The player always knows his or her score, level, goal, and objective. How often does that happen in a 40 minute period?
There must be something I do better than this game, or I risk being replaced by a machine. I do a damn good Godfather impression, for what it’s worth. But during my last workout it did tell me flat out that I was a couch potato, so I guess my Wii Fit is making me an offer I can’t refuse.
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