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The global challenges facing physical education...

I have been fortunateenough to spend a few days in Tsukuba, Japan as part of summer school withcolleagues from Korea, India, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, France,the USA, England and Japan. As part of the programme a number of colleagues wereasked to present and contextualise the challenges facing physical education in their countries. From these discussions some commonthemes were collated and shared with the participants. It seems appropriatethat I should try and articulate these ideas in a blog…

The fundamentalconcern was the lack of research-evidence to show the positive impact thatphysical education has in young peoples’ lives and the significance it has inpeoples’ lifelong physical activity habits. This lack of evidence makes itdifficult to advocate the continued or enhanced role of physical education inschools. This concern comes at a time when provision for elementary-agedstudents was either threatened or under-resourced and when the poverty/wealth gapis ever widening. This growing “money divide” further highlights the starkdifferences between the affluent and the impoverished and their experiences ofphysical education. Greater national leadership is required. However, this supportneeds to be properly informed and must take account of increasingly diverse worldwidepopulations (and their cultures and languages). Finally there is a dividebetween the ideas of teachers and coaches when the learning of young athletesis considered. The destination is often similar but there is a lack of synergyin our approaches.  All of these themeshave emerged at a time when sports programmes remain the dominant context forthe teaching of physical education: a situation unlikely to changed unlessphysical education teacher education institutes take great steps to modernizeand reconsider their programmes. 

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On Saturday 30 July at 14:30 Ali Brian said
Greetings from the USA!!! I also attended the Tsukuba Institute. I agree with all of the above mentioned comments but feel that there is a bigger issue to PE which stems from issues with education in general. How can we position PE so that it is seen as a primary subject and not an ancillary one? Part of the solution would be to provide evidence through research. The other part, and the main issue in the USA is how do we get PETE and PE practitioners to come together and form a unified front? We, as PETE professionals cannot even agree as to what is the best course of action for PE curriculums. If we could figure out how to create a unified front that would be a huge first step. The issues with education in the USA are decentralization. There is no national curriculum, in fact, each state and each school district decides its course of action. Some school districts allow waivers for PE, some have no system of accountability what-so-ever. If we can position PE and PETE with a unified front (using model-based PE pedagogy, providing evidence from action-based research etc...) coming from its professionals, maybe we can have a chance to change the viewpoint of decision makers and take a first step towards promoting the sustainability in PE that we in the US and around the world so desperately need. Ali Brian,The Ohio State University, USA

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