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Physical Education: re-discovering pedagogy

I thought that it might be useful to write a daily blog from the British Educational Research Association national conference and thought I would start with the physical education special interest groups "invisible college." The invisible college is a pre-conference gathering where the phys ed research community meet to listen to a scholarly lecture before engaging in a discussion around the lecture in the morning and then participate in relevant discussions in the afternoon. The afternoon session was around grant writing and, while being interest to me, I will make the executive decision that it may not be of interest to you.

However, the morning session (which I tweeted about at the time) was by Professor Peter Hastie and explored the need to put pedagogy back into physical education research. Peter's argument was that research has been focused on measureable health outcomes (often measured by student activity through movement) which have excluded the teacher, the student, the teaching, the learning, the context - in fact everything that relates to what is happening in schools. Outcomes are not the only thing that is important in physical education and we must be concerned with the explicit pedagogical inputs that are occurring in our classrooms. We, as Phys Ed teachers, need to acknowledge that physical education facilitates the activity outcomes that occur in lessons and therefore we need to be concerned with how we present learning in our work - which means we need to care about our teaching and what the students learn. The outcome of increased participation in Phys Ed is not enough and could be considered meaningless if we don't understand what happened in the classroom.

Peter went on to suggest that lifelong physical activity is a poor yardstick against which to measure physical activity. Instead he suggested that a personal belief in the child that they were a mover was more important. If children, or specifically a child, believe(s) that they are a mover and that they stand a greater chance of experiencing enjoyment in their phys Ed experiences. Furthermore he believed that students needed to feel competence in their area of activity and finally he advocated that students would benefit from autonomy and opportunities to really engage in areas of interest. Such opportunity places the emphasis on meaningful, sustained and sustainable physical engagement rather than an experience curriculum that has been described as a mile wide and an inch deep.

While Peter's lecture was aimed at encouraging researchers to put the pedagogy back into research I felt that it supported the arguments and discussions that were occurring in the blogsphere and on Twitter. There is an argument that outcome can be considered coincidental if we have less or little regard for the inputs. As teachers we cannot assume that a constant methodology (or pedagogy) will lead to new outcomes. Einstein, I think, said that madness was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes. We need to consider our inputs so that we can improve the outcomes that our students’ enjoys.

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On Wednesday 01 September at 10:49 Jay Trevaskis said
Sounds like an interesting session. I've been thinking a lot about teaching physical education to those that don't like moving recently - particularly older students. I think the challenge is, in a large group, how you find the activities that they enjoy and find engaging. How do we help them discover that they are 'movers'? For many, they've switched off at a younger age as the divide between skill levels started to widen. Is it better to try to engage them in activities that they will take on as lifelong pursuits rather than have them disengaged in other activities that they tend to spoil for others?

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