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The multicultural pedagogies of sports August 29, 2016

Posted by Editor21C in Community Engagement, Engaging Learning Environments, Social Justice and Equity through Education.
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By Jorge Knijnik and Carol Reid

As Australia receives new intakes of migrants, many from refugee backgrounds, government, non-government and community organizations take part in supporting the settlement of these new arrivals and their families. As such, across Greater Western Sydney and other places, we have seen the proliferation of sports programs offered to young people in order to help their transition into their new country.

Sports has long been considered an arena that can bring social cohesion to society. ‘Common sense’ understandings of the role of sport therefore take for granted the idea that as long as people are playing organized sports, issues of collective and peaceful coexistence magically emerge through the ‘power of sport in bringing people together’.

However, sports are not immune to wider problems in society. Despite the spectacularization of sports within all types of media and the uses of sport as a supernatural tool by politicians, cultural and educational research have pointed out that sports can also be a field for discrimination and social exclusion. We just need to look at Adam Goodes’ troubles during the 2015 AFL season to still see the prevalence of racism on the sports field; and on school playgrounds, we can still perceive young children being ostracized in sports practices based on gender. These issues will exist in sports as long as they exist in society. It is not possible to think that social and cultural discrimination will somehow disappear because people are together on a sports field.

So, what are the practical implications of cultural and social diversity for sports practitioners such as coaches, players, managers and referees? Is it possible to draw some pedagogical guidelines that assist people on the field to negotiate cultural diversity? How can we be assured that sports coaches, teachers and instructors who work in the frontline of sports education will be equipped with culturally inclusive pedagogical views and tools so sports will really deliver the positive social outcomes that they are meant to?

Currently, very little is known about how young people from culturally diverse backgrounds interact in the context of their sports practice. Notwithstanding the importance of sports training and competition in the lives of Australia’s diverse populations, until now little research has been undertaken in Australia to understand how cultural diversity is experienced in the everyday lives of thousands of young sports persons within their growing and diversifying multicultural communities.

The socio-cultural space of sport provides a key public educational site for young people to actively participate in civic life and engage with different cultures. Education is seen here as a ‘cultural pedagogical practice that takes place in multiple sites’ (Giroux, 2011:141). Hence, cultural pedagogical practices developed in and through sport training settings raises fundamental questions of public life in order to produce more inclusive communities where conflict is not denied but constantly negotiated. These pedagogies may contribute to young people developing understandings for engaging with others and to transform their world. In the current global content these capacities seem critical  (Giroux, 2011).

Currently in the School of Education we have been trying to understand how young people and their sports coaches and instructors develop their training strategies during their daily sports practices to deal with cultural diversity on and off the sports fields and courts. This knowledge will be central in the development of new pedagogies that really support the inclusion of people from different backgrounds and with different identities without undermining any culture/gender/sexuality in favour of maintaining hegemonic practices. The awareness of current pedagogical practices in several sports venues across Greater Western Sydney will contribute to the formulation of a pedagogical framework to support conviviality within high culturally and socially diverse communities: the design of the multicultural pedagogies of sport will be fundamental in the development of real inclusiveness in the diverse sports field within Greater Western Sydney.


Giroux, H. A. (2011). On critical pedagogy: Bloomsbury Publishing USA.


Dr Jorge Knijnik and Professor Carol Reid are members of the School of Education and researchers in the Centre for Educational Research at Western Sydney University, Australia.

Citius, Altius, Fortius: Olympic Education as an authentic learning experience June 17, 2012

Posted by Editor21C in Engaging Learning Environments, Primary Education, Secondary Education, Social Justice and Equity through Education.
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from Dr Jorge Knijnik

In a few weeks the world’s attention, and certainly the interest of most Australians will turn to the 2012 London Olympics – the paramount sports events on Earth. All media will be highlighting the world’s ‘faster, higher and stronger’ athletes and parathletes. It will be quite impossible to escape from the powerful stories and images that will abound over our TV shows, the internet, and newspapers. The prowess of athletes from all nations, and even their failures, make fascinating dramas that rouse the curiosity of people from all sorts of backgrounds and ages.

Of course school communities are not immune to this universal movement. Children and adolescents, teachers and parents, the whole school community could be consumed with the Olympic Games. So, why do we not take this fascinating moment in our planet’s life and use it to teach? Schools and teachers should be prepared to take the Olympics into account while planning their lessons for the next couple of months.  Our students could ‘learn with the Olympics’, discuss its story and also examine the values and beliefs that the Olympic philosophy – Olympism – is based upon. They could investigate how it might or might not inspire the new generations. And more, as the Olympics is a universal event, is it possible to consider the existence of universal values connected to this movement, as proposed by the advocates of the Olympism and the Olympic Education?

Sport, the ethos of sport as well as all the individual sports, is still the essence of Olympism, which, as a philosophy is based on a true belief that sport should be a tool for humankind’s educational, social and moral development. The founder of the modern Olympic movement and first president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the French nobleman, Pierre de Coubertin, considered education through sport to be one of the “cornerstones of the Olympic Movement” (Knijnik & Tavares, 2012). Coubertin regarded sport as a powerful tool that might “be chivalrous or corrupt, manly or bestial”, … that could “be used to solidify peace or prepare to war” (de Coubertin 1894, 1). Hence, Olympism aims to deliver an Olympic Education which draws on the practical experiences provided by sporting engagement as a vehicle to incorporate and promote values education.

However, recent research in this area has demonstrated that values education needs to take in account a diverse variety of contents and educational strategies (Sandford et al, 2008:422). The Olympic Education program that took place in Greece before the 2004 Athens Olympics evidences this fact, as 33% of the students’ time in this educational intervention actively involved the Arts and theory-based lessons, planned to immerse the students in Olympic values to and to transfer them to wider positive social behaviors and attitudes (Hassandra et al, 2007). Such educational programs have already been in place in the UK for over seven years ahead of the opening of the London Olympics (see http://www.london2012.com/about-us/inspire/inspire-programme/.

Such programs have again revitalized the Olympic Education activity of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In 2007 the IOC released a work-program to be used by teachers and tertiary educators, called, Teaching Values: an Olympic Educational Toolkit (IOC, 2007), which presented pedagogical guidelines that are already or should be embedded in students’ lives. The Teaching Values program uses strategies such as: dilemmas, role-play and small-group discussions seeking to promote Olympic values such as ‘joy of effort’, ‘fair play’, ‘respect for others’, ‘pursuit of excellence’ and ‘balance between body, will and mind’. Using these methodologies, the IOC document is clearly aiming to challenge sports participants to make ethical decisions (Knijnik & Tavares, 2012).

The Australian Olympic Committee has also developed an Olympic Education strategy that goes far beyond merely teaching sports education. This program is called the A.S.P.I.R.E. school network: A — for attitude, S — for sportsmanship, P– for pride, I — for individuality, R — for respect, and E — for express yourself. ASPIRE provides school teachers with hundreds of resources to relate the Olympic Games to the students’ daily lives. These not only improving students’ knowledge about the Olympics, but also link values and cultural facts that are around or even entrenched in the Olympics, and in London and England as the venue of the 2012 Olympics.

On the ASPIRE website a primary teacher can find lesson plans for all stages of primary education – lessons that go from cultural facts, and English and Australian songs related to the Olympics (like the national anthems); to lessons that discuss traditional recipes of the Olympic host. They include lessons that challenges the students to reflect on an Olympic athlete’s nutritional habits, and their impacts on the body, to lessons that deal with ethical values that are embedded in the ASPIRE purpose.

Is it valuable for a young African migrant living in Western Sydney to learn about and to discuss such values as sportsmanship, or individuality, playing scenarios where she can learn the pride of being satisfied with her own effort, while learning the happiness of being part of a team? Is it positive for a vulnerable migrant young boy just arrived in Australia to learn how to express and speak up by himself, while at the same time learning respect and admiration by others’ achievements? On the same website, a secondary student is able to develop a deep understanding of Australia’s Olympic history by using a diverse range of e-learning milieus – respecting the students’ individual needs and paces, and consequently corroborating with the aims of the ASPIRE program. Using these resources, it’s possible to elaborate on how the Olympic Games have historically been associated to Human and Civil Rights issues – reflecting on race issues raised by the 1968 Games in Mexico, or the Apartheid in South Africa, or even the women’s struggle to participate in the Games. Isn’t this learning especially significant for teenagers who have just started to learn about their own rights as human beings, as well as other’s Human Rights?

The acclaimed Brazilian educator Paulo Freire had a “golden rule” for each teacher and for each educational setting: he stated that any lesson, any educational methodology, any content, in order to be meaningful for the learner should be “rooted in concrete situations” (Freire, 2000:37) – that learning must be always authentic and relevant. Aiming to instill values education within a universal ethical framework known as Olympism, that underpins a contemporary Olympic Education program, reminds us that Freire was and still is right: educators and students must contextualise the learning process towards a momentous and authentic educational process which promotes a better understanding of each of our lives. Is there a better chance for this education than through the Olympic Games, with its glories, defeats, emotions and contradictions?

References:  de Coubertin, P. 1894. The Character of Our Enterprise, [Le caractère de notre enterprise] in, N. MÜLLER (ed.) Olympism, Selected Writings, Pierre de Coubertin 1863 – 1937. Lausanne: International Olympic Committee, 2000, p. 660-663.    Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. (30th Anniversary Edition.) New York: Continuum.   Hassandra, M., M.Goudas, A. Hatzigeorgiadis and Y. Theodorakis. 2007.A fair play intervention program in school Olympic education. European Journal of Pshycology of Education, XXII, no. 2: 127-141.    Knijnik, J., & Tavares, O. (2012). Educating Copacabana: a critical analysis of the “Second Half”, an Olympic education program of Rio 2016. Educational Review, 64(3). Access at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00131911.2012.671805

Sandford, R.A., R. Duncombe & K.M. Armour. (2008). The role of physical activity/sport in tackling youth disaffection and anti-social behaviour. Educational Review 60, n. 4, 419-435.

Dr. Jorge Knijnik is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. He hasn’t made the Australian Team to the London Olympics, but will keep trying harder to make the Rio Olympics/2016! Jorge would like to acknowledge his always supportive Royal Vizier, Dr. Peter Horton (James Cook University), for his ‘Olympic’ comments and for adding so much in an earlier version of this article. Some parts of this article have been based on the forthcoming paper “Educating Copacabana: a critical analysis of the ‘Second Half’, an Olympic Education Program of Rio/2016”, by Jorge Knijnik and Otavio Tavares.

Using the Game Sense approach to deliver Quality Teaching in Physical Education November 27, 2011

Posted by Editor21C in Engaging Learning Environments, Primary Education, Secondary Education.
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from Christina Curry

Christina Curry has previously posted one of our most popular contributions: Why public primary schools are desperate for specialised PE teachers. Here, she argues that through Game Sense, a different approach to teaching physical education, students can master intellectual as well as physical challenges.

In a climate of increasing accountability, expectations that teachers understand and demonstrate high quality teaching in Australia are reflected across a range of government initiatives. At a state level this includes the New South Wales (NSW) Quality Teaching Framework (QTF).

The NSW model of pedagogy embedded in the QTF focuses on the teaching practices that research studies indicates can make the most difference when it comes to improving student learning outcomes. The emphasis on providing intellectual quality, a quality learning environment and making the significance of learning explicit to students provides a valuable framework within which teachers can strive to deliver quality teaching. Many PDHPE teachers have struggled to deliver quality physical education teaching within this framework as the traditional model of teaching PE neglects the intellectual dimensions of games, sport and other movement (Light, 2002).

I suggest, as others have (Pearson, Webb, & McKeen, 2005), that a shift from traditional skill based, technique focused PE to a Game Sense pedagogy provides an ideal means through which PDHPE teachers can address the Quality Teaching Framework in the teaching of games and sport.

The Games Sense approach (see YouTube clip in the references below) is a student-centred, inquiry-based approach that allows students to develop their own skills and understandings while being actively involved in the game. It focuses on the game and not on the discrete skills or techniques that traditional approaches see as needing to be mastered before playing the game. All learning occurs within the authentic context of modified games or game-like activities to develop understanding, decision-making and skills that work within the context of a game. Skill development occurs at the same time as understanding, with the modified games reducing the technical demands on the students so that they can concentrate on the games as a whole. In this way Game Sense integrates physical, intellectual and social learning. Children can understand similarities between games and explore common principles.

Game Sense tends to use small sided, modified games that incorporate essential tactical structures but which are adapted to cater for different age, size, ability, inclination and motivation. This typically involves designing a series of modified, small-sided games that progressively move from simple to more complex games, culminating in the full game or modified version of it that the teacher expects the students to be able to play at the end of the unit. The games increase, not only in tactical complexity but also in the skills required to play them. The focus here is on students learning through engagement with the learning environment facilitated by the teacher who guides, shapes and enhances learning but does not determine it.

The inability to respond with suitably high quality teaching widens the gap between physical education and the ‘academic’ curriculum, reinforcing the perception of PE as a non-academic subject distant from the ‘real’ school curriculum. This then reduces physical education to justifying its place in the curriculum as a tool for fighting lifestyle diseases such as obesity, when research suggests its potential for realising valuable intellectual learning through movement when appropriate pedagogy is adopted (Light & Fawns, 2003).

As Australia moves towards a national curriculum there is a pressing need for high quality pedagogy that highlights the possibilities for learning through movement in physical education. PE teachers using the Game Sense approach will not only be able to meet the requirements of the NSW Quality Teaching Framework but will also be able to provide high quality learning experiences for students and make a start toward making physical education a truly valuable educational experience in NSW schools.

References    Light, R. (2002). Engaging the body in learning: Promoting cognition in games through TGfU ACHPER Healthy Lifestyle Journal, 49(269-87).   Light, R., & Fawns, R. (2003). Knowing the game: integrating speech and action in games teaching through TGfU. Quest, 55, 161-177.     Pearson, P., Webb, P., & McKeen, K. (2005). Linking Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) and Quality Teaching (QT). Game Sense youtube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKzAbB2Lg6U

Christina Curry is a Lecturer in Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. She teaches and researches in K-12 PDHPE curriculum and pedagogy.

Why public Primary schools are desperate for specialised PE teachers March 20, 2011

Posted by Editor21C in Education Policy and Politics, Primary Education.
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from Christina Curry

In her first post, Christina Curry emphasises the importance of physical education for childrens’ health and the difficulties that Primary school teachers often face in teaching this curriculum area. She argues that the provision of specialist PE teachers in these schools offers a solution to this problem.

In a society that is facing serious health issues, the importance of physical education (PE) in our Public primary schools is often neglected.

Children need the value of lifelong physical activity to be instilled in them from a young age. In some cases this is achieved through family, but more often it relies on the school to ensure PE is embedded in their lives and that the children’s experiences with PE are positive and worthwhile.

Physical education is mandated to make up 6-10% of curriculum time, but this time allocation is rarely met. Research has uncovered a range of barriers which impact on the amount and quality of PE and sporting programs within primary schools. These barriers exist mainly because the delivery of PE usually relies on classroom teachers, who already have many other pressures placed upon them.  With the introduction of the My School website, a heavy emphasis has been placed on improving numeracy and literacy, and this pressure will continue to intensify as teachers strive to meet the needs of the new National curriculum. With this mounting pressure, it is common for a lesser focus to be placed on PE. Researchers have found that Primary teachers often omit the mandatory PE hours from their week as a result of feeling pressured by the extent of the curriculum and their lack of experience and ability to teach the practical component of the PDHPE syllabus. A specialist PE teacher would be able to ensure that the importance of PE is not overwhelmed by these other emphases.

In a recent study of primary teachers, it was found that many were unable to fit in the mandatory hours across all subject areas, with most participants admitting that PE was the first to suffer (Morgan & Hansen, 2008:511). There is a range of other factors impacting on our teachers and include their lack of confidence to teach PE, a lack of time, poor facilities, inadequate resources and low levels of interest in PE in general. The limited sporting resources available in primary schools, coupled with the lack of expertise to develop and execute lessons, continue to be an ongoing concern. On average, primary teachers complete about 10 hours of PE training in their initial teacher training. Many teachers are relying on their own school experiences with PE and sport, hence their own teaching of PE is a reflection of their memories, both good and bad, rather than from the knowledge gained in professional pre-service training (Carney & Chedzoy, 1998; Morgan & Bourke, 2008). Specialised PE teachers complete four years of training to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to provide our children with quality PE.

Teachers have often struggled with the concepts of the traditional PE approach which is very skill based. The lack of confidence they feel in teaching skills and their feelings of inadequacy with their own physical prowess impact on their ability to provide quality teaching in this area. However, with the introduction of contemporary approaches to teaching in PE, such as Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) and Game Sense (GS), we now have an approach which is more enjoyable for both teachers and students and one that meets the standards of the quality teaching and learning framework. Specialised PE teachers are confident and passionate about PE and continue to stay informed of new trends as they only need to focus on this one speciality area.

When considering cost implications, a specialised PE teacher could be shared among 2-3 schools over the week, as one hour per week of PE is sufficient for each K-6 class.

It is imperative that our children are encouraged to participate in physical activity, and that these experiences lead to a lifelong involvement in physical activity.  Instilling positive experiences through physical education in primary schools would contribute to reducing many of the health issues currently faced in our society.

Surely we are justified in providing quality education in PE through the use of specialised PE teachers.

References:  Carney, C., & Chedzoy, S. (1998). Primary Student Teacher Prior Experiences and Their Relationship to Estimated Competence to Teach the National Curriculum for Physical Education. Sport, Education and Society, 3(1), 19 – 36.  Morgan, P. J., & Hansen, V. (2008). Classroom teachers’ perceptions of the impact of barriers to teaching physical education on the quality of physical education programs. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 79(4), 506 -16.  Morgan, P., & Bourke, S. (2008). Non-specialist teachers’ confidence to teach PE: the nature and influence of personal school experiences in PE. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 13(1), 1 – 29.

Christina Curry is a Lecturer in Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. She teaches and researches in PDHPE curriculum and pedagogy in both primary and secondary school settings.

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