Tags: curriculum, health and physical education, sports education
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.
Tags: curriculum, health and physical education, sports education
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.