What is at the core of Physical Education?

What are the beliefs at the core of a great Physical Education program? This is a difficult question to answer. For many subjects we teach in our schools, the answer is straightforward. For example, most would agree Language Arts teachers build reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Finding P.E teachers who agree on the core values of our subject can be more troublesome.

Throughout my schooling and during the early part of my teaching career, P.E units were fundamentally about teaching sport skills. Four weeks of basketball to learn how to dribble, shoot and pass. Four weeks of athletics to teach how to pass a relay baton, throw a javelin and leap over a high jump bar.

However, the problem with this structure of P.E curriculum is that is does not prepare students to be active after they leave school. Studies in many countries around the world have found that once young people reach the age of 24, they are very unlikely to participate in any sports at all. the most popular way for adults to move and be active is in fact walking, followed by swimming, jogging and going to the gym.

So how can we ensure that the P.E programs we design are relevant for our students?




The answer to this question may be two-part. First is to design a curriculum that develops a students physical literacy. That is, helps children master the fundamental movement skills, such as running, jumping, throwing, catching etc, and gives them the confidence to use those skills in a variety of situations. Focusing on these fundamental skills will mean, for example, that a student will be confident throwing a wide array of objects vs confident at throwing just  basketball.

The second piece of the puzzle is to expose students to as many different types of movement as possible, not just mainstream sports. We want our students leaving our P.E programs knowing how they love to be active, whether it be playing soccer, dancing in a zumba class, riding a skateboard or climbing a rock wall.

At the core of a great P.E program is the belief that our most important task is to instill a love of movement in our students and give them the physical tools to pursue their movement passions for the rest of their lives.


Further information

What is physical literacy? http://www.physicalliteracy.ca/

Adult physical activity studies;

US adult physical activity

UK adult physical activity

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