I saw this argument discussed (or mentioned) on twitter and thought I would try and answer it. I am not sure that there is a simple response but it tests my understanding and my ability to articulate a balanced argument. It is worth noting that (if you have even read this far) that I am not going to go back and edit this so you are getting my thoughts as 'shot from the hip.' I guess that that is my idea of what a blog should be. Not something rehearsed but something that comes from the heart and mind in one iteration. So…physical education is…?
This house believes that physical education is...
- Physical education is a practical activity that serves as a break from the rigours of life (whether these are the stresses of work or the confusion and melee of school). It is a vehicle for healthy living and while it has long been associated with traditional team sports (like football, Hockey, basketball, rugby, cricket etc) and leisure activities (like running, cycling, aerobics etc) anything that improves our general well-being should be enough to satisfy the population.
- Sport is the essence of physical education. It is the doing or watching that is important and besides sport allows us to develop leadership skills, work cooperatively and prepares us for the cutthroat world outside the comfort of our own homes (or for some within their homes and neighbourhoods).
- Physical education is about national sporting success. If kids don't like competition or elite sports then they have to acknowledge that fact and find something else to do. As long as the country does well on the world stage then the forms of physical education as sports participation is a worth incarnation of sport in schools.
- No pain, no gain. If something is easily obtained then it is not as worthwhile. The struggles inherent in working hard (and beyond your comfort and ability range) are good for you and certainly builds character. Adversity will end your childhood and make an adult of you.
About informed participation...
- It is not enough to do. Those who engage in physical activity need to be, in the words of Daryl Siedentop, 'competent', 'literate' and 'enthusiastic' participants. They need to be able to improve their personal ability so that they can succeed to their best. They need to understand physical activity so that they can be critical consumers i.e. they can watch or play and understand the rules and the nuances of the activity. Finally they need to take part for taking parts sake not because someone tells them to. Coercion is not a pathway to lifelong physical activity but is a repeatedly reissued invitation for physical education to be mocked in the media and across social networking sites.
From twitter over the last 24 hours
- Physical education! Ugh
- A very bad time at physical education class
- physical education works sucks.
- A survey undertaken in the UK http://www.realbuzz.com/articles/top-10-most-popular-sports/ suggests that of the top ten most popular participation sports for men and women on one was a team game. Yet our schools teach team games ahead of anything else. Furthermore when we try something else we get lambasted by the press http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/6338489/Yoga-and-circus-skills-replace-school-rugby.html.
- Does this mean that physical education is about sport and elite participation or does this mean that the way physical education is viewed is wrong? Take the example of exercise makes you thin and thin is healthy. How much of that statement is true? Looked at like that… then not much… but that is the crux of the argument that we put across on a daily basis. We have made associations so broad that anything seems to be possible and which leads people to extreme behaviours rather than healthy lives.
- We need to inform our children, parents and adults about what good and safe living is and surely that should start in physical education.
- Physical education and sport lends, borrows, gives, and shows (among other things) examples of the workings of the human body to the world. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/ Many of our passions about sport come through our heroes and role-models and a plethora of sports jobs have grown up around the field http://www.uksport.gov.uk/jobs/. Indeed how many people went to the Beijing Olympics and how many were actual competitors? This is a huge employer and people should know the options.
- However, some don't think that physical education equates to being academic (Twitter: Joke for tomorrow: I'll be sitting for a PE theory test! Yes, physical education. HAHAHA!) yet with kinesiology departments and sport science departments and physical education and sports studies departments http://www.beds.ac.uk/departments/physicalhave we overlooked an important part of a children education?
- Some don't even know that PE means physical education - what went wrong (Twitter: pe?? as in physical education? Or oh PE is Physical Education xD like gym lol). It seems that gym has replaced lifelong physical activity or learning about how the physical occurs. There is an association with physical education as doing i.e. Correct me if I'm wrong but PE stands for PHYSICAL Education! (thanks to twitter for some life conversations) rather than understanding. Have we turned our subject into a 'doing' only subject?
If you have got this far then thanks for sticking with me.
Education has some issues to address and physical education has some decisions to make... i.e. what are we and what do we do?