After three days in Limerick, Ireland as one of a gathering of renowned, emerging and/or aspiring physical education and sport pedagogy researchers from more than thirty countries I have used the flight home to reflect upon my initial (and personal) take-home messages:
The predominant message was one of engagement. Everybody has the inherent right and a need for opportunities to play. Some create these for themselves while others are either discouraged (both intentionally or unintentionally) from enjoying these same opportunities due to a physical or a learning disability or because they simply do not know how to create or take advantage of them. For some they are put off by the rigid practices they encounter in their lessons, while others lack the necessary support structures or the innate desire to play. The physically disabled, the learning disabled and the play disabled (those who make little or no connection to the potential joys of movement and play) all need our support. Therefore, as educators, we must model excessive happiness and enjoyment in our work so that the learners in our care become apprentices of master playmakers rather than the recipients of a 'physical' education. To do this we need to engage in new ways of knowing and acting that prepares them from an ever decreasing world where technology has created new opportunities for collaborative play. This requires realistic and sustained teacher professional learning opportunities where teachers can engage in the practice of engagement.