Physical Education in School ...important?
Hello Fellow Colleagues in Education,
Thank you for taking the time to read our ITE blog, it is with pleasure that I am writing this month for your perusal. I sincerely hope that it stimulates your thinking and you share it with your physical education departments. My name is Shrehan Lynch and I am the subject leader for the physical education course at UEL. Many of you reading may have instantly thought, ‘urgh not for me’, ‘not interested’ or ‘I won’t learn anything’ but I encourage you to stay with me on this one.
Did you know that many leaders (unless physical educationalists) do not see the importance of physical education in school? Often physical education curriculum time is the first to be cut, and academic physical education taken off the curriculum. Research has largely said (and I am generalising here) that this is because many individuals reflect on their own experiences in physical education and think of a negative experience or something that they did not like. As a physical education teacher and now a teacher educator, this is gut-wrenching for me because I want all involved in my lessons to have a positive movement experience that extends to adulthood - free of shame, elimination and comparison against peers – where we realise that everyBODY truly is different and we respect our bodily variances. I am grateful that my PhD studies allowed me the opportunity to investigate movement experiences that ignite enjoyment, social interaction, fun, but also spaces that are free from inequities such as gender segregation, immense competition, elitism and ableism (amongst others). For many years, the physical education discipline has been in a cycle of regurgitating old traditionally orientated curriculums, recycling the same sports, and in some cases making fitness testing mandatory.
As an example, thinking of your own physical education department curriculum:
- Does your team recycle the same sports/activities year in, year out?
- Do students enjoy their movement space?
- What type of pedagogical instruction takes place? Are the teachers using command styles and lesson formats such as ‘warm-up, skill, drill, game’? Or are they doing something else?
- Is there a hyper-focus on those that are physically able? Why?
- What is your departments aim(s)? Do they seek for all students to be able to move with joy?
- What type of activities take place? Do they focus any inducted into the ‘Hall of Shame’: https://www.pecentral.org/professional/hos/ e.g. bench ball or dodgeball
Reflecting on our purposes is very important no matter our subject area and many departments across the country are doing that. I have worked very closely with one of our partner schools, Sarah Bonnell on their curriculum offer and I am happy to share that their curriculum is full of pedagogies that challenge the status quo.
One of my papers, ‘You have to find your slant, your groove:’ one physical education teacher’s efforts to employ transformative pedagogy: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17408989.2019.1592146 discussed issues of inequity and how we can teach for social justice through movement spaces. I was very fortunate to have been awarded ‘Paper of the Year’ for this publication in the Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy Journal and was invited to present my paper to an invited audience during lockdown 3.0, entitled ‘Pop Up in Lock Up with Dr Shrehan Lynch’, I am sharing the presentation I gave with those that are interested in my work and connecting physical EDUCATION to societal issues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=_x7U6IXb-LY&feature=youtu.be Please do consider sharing it with teachers, departments and anyone who may be of interest. I welcome your comments and feedback and hope that you enjoy it and reflect on your own experiences within this wonderful discipline!
In solidarity through these difficult times.
Dr Shrehan Lynch, Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education, School of Education