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Schools and healthy lifestyles

Day four began with a Phys Ed session exploring perspectives on physical education. The first paper explored physical education on YouTube. After examining 1000s of videos, titled as physical education specific, these were then reduced through this initial viewing  into a data set of over 250. The author suggested that such data was neither private nor public due to availability i.e. they were placed on YouTube by teachers and students as participants in physical education. These videos were uploaded to create dialogues (and offer resources) between teachers (as peers)and between teachers and their students, and indeed between students and their teacher(s). The research found that the activities (i.e. basketball, weight training) appeared to were fairly consistent across the world. That is not to say there weren't differences and these occurred in language, geographical setting, equipment etc. However it is interesting to note that these anecdotal findings may indicate that Phys Ed is interpreted in similar ways across the world.  However, the author suggested that participation was different across countries i.e. the way in which these common activities were played and taught was quiet different. The ways of participating in Phys Ed were seen as warming up, sport for real, sport for fun, trying different activity, having fun rather than doing sports or activities, training fitness, and dancing.

The second study explored why Swedish children continue to be involved in sports clubs as they enter and progress through their teenage years. The author felt that by exploring the reasons for involvement, rather than the reasons for non-involvement allowed her to understand three facets of involvement. In drawing on the work of Antonovsky the author felt that this suggested that children need to find the activity: Comprehensible i.e. they understand the benefits of participation, Manageable i.e. they could fit it into their daily lives and Meaningful i.e. it had a degree of importance/motivating in their daily or weekly lives. In comprehending and managing these facets the student needed to maintain a balance in terms of regular involvement, travel, family support, friendship and relationship with clubs and coaches. Meaningful was uncovered in terms of lifestyle. Life without sport was not desirable and they identify with sport and exercise and enjoy the mutual experiences and mutual goals shared with friends, family and coaches.

The third group explored Swiss youth, migration and the myth of integrative sports. In exploring immigration and the diverse opinions held about immigrants the presentation explored the use of sport as an integrative medium. However, the social sciences suggest that sport is not effective (or at least as effect) as society believes it is. The interviewees (52 children and adolescence) felt that sport isn't a means of integration because people play their traditional sports, or use it "let off steam" rather than integrating as a member of society (eg speaking the language).

The fourth paper, in which I was cajoled into playing a cameo role, explored physical educations future; most specifically a future that saw the extinction of Phys Ed. This paper built upon the book and was written in response to a review of the same book. The paper presented an idea of life in 20 years where physical education was extinct and children learnt about healthy lifestyles from a ten-minute ‘pocket’ work out with their computer/game station. This is just one of the futures envisioned in the future but it was a telling reminder of the fragility of physical education as it now stands.

The next SIG session explored the role that school plays as a key setting for promoting health among children and adolescents. The first paper explored the role of playtime (or break/recess) in enhancing children’s physical activity. Using objective measures (such as motion sensors and heart rate monitors), self-reported measures, qualitative measures and biological outcomes the paper examined the ways in which children were involved in physical activity when using a Nike play zone playground.  The first finding was that boys were more active than girls but included in this was the perception by pupils that the boys desire to play football (soccer) dominated the playground and marginalised the play of the girls and other pupils. However, it also showed that the children who benefitted from a new playground increase their activity levels but those who didn't (i.e. in a comparison group) levelled out or declined in their activity levels. The conclusion was that playtime is a valuable place/location to raise the PA levels if students and should be protected for the benefit of children.

The second paper investigated the role that Phys Ed and Phys Ed teachers can be sensibly involved in addressing childhood obesity. The implications for health are well reported (and as the presenter suggested may be over reported and over emphasised) and I won't report those here. However, it is important that we don't concentrate on overweight and obese children by adopting an uncritical attitude towards those children. Measuring the obvious and wasting resources, examining lunch boxes, fat clubs etc. rather than helping the child. Instead, the presenter offered the following guidance: School priorities, staff training, interventions, engagement with parents/carers to help a child and their family as an individual unit to value healthy living. Further practical recommendations included a critical approach to diet, weight, Physical Activity, kit/clothing, groupings, tasks, etc. By taking the focus away from obesity and promoting inclusive, physical activity promoting, activities there is more of a chance of successful intervention.

The final paper explored the development of a pedagogical model for health-based physical activity. Examining previous research the presenters argued that mixed health goals of sport-based, multiple activity Phys Ed programmes are not successful in developing health. Furthermore, MVPA is not an effective focus for health development as this is based on current lifestyle choices. The conclusion was that a pedagogical model should be developed to align teaching, learning and content. The major theme of the model will be valuing a physically active life with students as independent learners. Such a model would occur with new measures of successful Phys Ed programmes, the types of curriculums planned and changes in spaces and equipment used in Phys Ed.

There was a discussion around these three papers which I will deposit in the resources section. If you have read this far then thank you for taking the time to read. I am happy to try and answer any questions  you might have and welcome your responses.

comment avatar
About me
On Sunday 12 September at 20:23 Susan Jones said
Did anyone look at the differences in participation rates when boys and girls had separate gym classes?
Ashley Casey
About me
On Wednesday 15 September at 17:45 Ashley Casey said
Hi Susan, I am not sure that that study has been done. I will see if I can uncover anything. Did you have a particular angle in mind i.e. age, activity etc? Ashley

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