The title of this week's blog is 'next'. Originally it was going to be 'two becomes three' and I envisioned writing about/reflecting on developing your models-based practice approach from two models to three. On reflection this now seems a little naïve - and for a number of reasons. Fundamentally, even if you'd followed this blog avidly, instigated your first model in week 1 and made tweaks and changes in line with my suggests then you'd still all be in different places. For some, a second or third model would be possible (due to past experiences or few teething problems) for others, the first model might still in the planning stage. Either way it felt wrong to write a two become three blog…so I'm writing about next.
But next what?
I guess it's next for me…and next for you. Given the different starting points for everyone who reads this I decided to try (somewhat spuriously and vaguely I'm sure) and address the question "How do you beginning to frame, develop and rework a models-based approach?" To do that I started by finding a drive, motivation or passion for changing, refining, improving (pick a word) you practice.
The caption in the photo above reads "passion led us here". To me this is a laudable impetuous for good teaching and teachers. That said, I believe it should be about more than that…good teaching and teachers that is. Good is what gets us to the next step and supports us as we move forwards but it's not the only thing.
I've been reading John Dewey lately - Experience and Education specifically - and much of what he says rings bells for me [both alarm bells and celebratory bells]. I could pick out any number of quotes but I will try to use his ideas sparingly and I explore the next steps, as I see them, in models-based practice.
Dewey, of course, wasn't talking about MBP or physical education or coaching (although he does use examples from sport). That said, his musings and his consideration of the value of experience in education allow us to consider MBP in new ways (albeit in my novice hands and in quite a rudimentary way).
Dewey (1938) wrote "The history of educational theory is marked by opposition between the ideas that education is development from within and that it is formation from without; that it is based upon natural endowments and that education is a process of overcoming natural inclination and substituting in its place habits acquired under external pressure." In suggesting this, Dewey argued that, traditionally, the different subjects taught in schools consist of a pre-formulated body of knowledge that have been deemed suitable for teachers to teach and students to learn. Furthermore, traditional education assumes that the chief business of schools is to transfer this knowledge to children.
Viewed this way it's easier to see that passion will only get us so far. We can be passionate for teaching but how do we forsake this passion for a body of knowledge that seemed worthy to the person or persons who 'put it together'? I'm not a big fan of the justification for teaching something because it's important that children learn about it. Aren't there better justifications? Surely. Why is IT important? What do they need to know about it? How many different ways can we help then value and be passionate about this important piece of…history, science, physical education…?
It reminds me of Robin Williams telling his students in Dead Poets Society to turn to chapter 1 and rip out all the pages.
At its heart models-based practice isn't about a set amount of content that we can transfer to children. In preparing this blog I re-read the introductions to Sport Education (Siedentop's (1994), Rethinking Games Teaching (Thorpe, Bunker and Almond, 1986) and Teaching Responsibility through Physical Activity (Hellison, 2003). None of them talk about pre-formulated knowledge. They talk about getting children excited and engaged in what they're doing. Tellingly Hellison (1993, p. 3) started his book by asking the questions "what's worth doing in school physical education?" and "what kind of professional contribution do I want to make?"
These question seem to be a long way away from traditional scheme of education that Dewey described as "one of imposition from above and from outside". Yet, if we are truly passionate about learning and aren't constrained by established ideas of teaching then we have a chance to change the environments in which we work.
If you followed this series of blogs for the last ten 'episodes' then you may recognise the development process I've tried to portray and articulate. When I set out to write this series I envisioned that this, the tenth blog, would be about introducing the third model and in many ways it is. But in writing this blog I've come to appreciate the different ways of doing this that might exist. Inestimable ways. There is no one way of doing models-based practice because it is pedagogical adaptive to context, content, learning and teaching/coaching. I can, therefore only serve as a guide to the process: driven by my passionate for education.
What I can say, however, is that tradition shouldn't be the driver for education. Externally decided, pre-established bodies of knowledge shouldn't be the driver for education.
The national curriculum for physical education in England states in its 'purpose of study' statement that:
A high-quality physical education curriculum inspires all pupils to succeed and excel in competitive sport and other physically demanding activities. It should provide opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness. Opportunities to compete in sport and other activities build character and help to embed values such as fairness and respect.
While many of the caveats in this statement have been criticised i.e. competitive sport and compete in sport. They have been imposed from above and from outside by people with narrow ideas of physical education and what's good for children to learn. That said, with some editing there are some aspects we could by into. If it read:
A high-quality physical education curriculum inspires all pupils to succeed and excel. It should provide opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and helps them to embed values such as fairness and respect.
Then we might be able to get more on board with it. This is not the only national, regional or state curriculum or guidance that you might follow but there are many ways to teach a curriculum than by simply following it blindly. What knowledge do we value? Why is competition always seen striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others?
The business world use the idea of Coopetition i.e. collaboration between rivals to gain a mutually beneficial outcome. Isn't that the definition of competition in sport. The outcome is important. The way the game is played is important. If we had this as our mantra then lots of the purposes of different curricula would be meet. Surely.
So what's next?
More passions. Sustained passion. A drive to think about what we want school physical education to be and the professional contribution we can make. Choosing to adopt a models-based practice is a way of saying I want to do something differently today and tomorrow because I'm passionate about developing individuals through the ways they experience education. It's not the only way. But it is a positive next step to education.
So that's the end of the planned blog series. Ten blogs written. What next? If you want me to continue to write about MBP then please give me some ideas about how to move forwards. If you'd like me to consider something else then please ask. Use the comment box below or email or tweet me.
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. New York: Collier Books.
Hellison, D. (2003). Teaching Responsibility through Physical Activity (2nd Edition). Leeds: Human Kinetics.
Siedentop, D. (1994). Sport Education. Leeds: Human Kinetics.
Thorpe, R., Bunker, D., & Almond, L. (1986). Rethinking Games teaching. Loughborough: Loughborough University.