|December 16, 2010|
Eric Stone, Dean of Education
Jack Webb, star of the 1950’s television show Dragnet, could be heard saying the catch phrase, “Just the facts ma’am, just the facts.” Here are the facts:
Last year I had a student who, by the end of class, often needed a physical release of energy. We talked about it and decided that in between classes he and I would do push-ups as a way of expending his energy and, at the same time, increase his upper body strength. Rather than do plain old push-ups, I suggested that we do an exercise I had been exposed to in the Navy Reserves—we call them Jack Webb’s (Jack Webb played the part of a Drill Instructor in a movie called the D.I. which came out in the fifties, hence the name). Basically the exercise combines a push-up with an arm lift—for example, a person starts on his/her knees lifts both arms over the head, and drops into the push-up position and completes a push-up. The count starts at one--doing one arm lift and one push-up, then two arm lifts and two push-ups all the way up to ten and then the count moves backwards to one again. In essence, each person completes 106 arm lifts and 106 push-ups in one setting. We started off slow, but in a few weeks had moved up to the ten-count. At the start of this year he came into my room before lunch each day and we did our Jack Webb’s. Another boy came in and started doing them and he brought a friend and so on and son. By the end of September we had moved out of my room into Studio 9 because we needed more space as 12 students were involved in the exercise program. I am happy to say that 6 faculty have joined us and on any given day there are between 15-18 people working out.
It was decided by the group that 106 push-ups a day was too much and did not give the body time to recuperate. We now do the jack Webb’s Monday-Wednesday-Friday and do abdominal work on Tuesday and Thursday. What has been most enjoyable for me to see is the level of commitment by the students and faculty. Despite some aches and pains each person shows up before lunch ready to work. Recently, students have been moving out to the front of the group to lead the exercises. The self-confidence they are showing is remarkable. The students have been very supportive of one another and constantly push each other to complete one more push –up.
The exercise program has been fantastic for me in a physical sense, but from a teaching standpoint it has been even more satisfying to see students engaged, supportive, and committed.