There continues to be ongoing debate about the qualities of a good physical education teacher. For a long time it was considered that keeping the students “busy, happy, good” was an end in itself. This emphasis affords little attention to what the students actually learn in physical education classes. Physical Education in our curriculum today has changed as has the way we live our lives, entertain ourselves and technology.
Before we look at what is considered today to be qualities of good physical education teaching, we need to look at where the notion of ‘busy, happy, good’ has come from. Richard Tinning, David Kirk and John Evens outline the progression of what has been deemed to be quality physical education in Australian schools over the decades. Their study looks at the methods being used by physical education teachers and what actually happens in the lesson instead of characteristics displayed by teachers.
The notion “busy, happy, good” was suggested to be a measure of quality teaching by Judith Placek in 1983. (Placek, 1983). Prior to Placek’s research one of the most commonly used tools to research the effectiveness of a teacher was the Academic Learning Time (ALT). An adaption of this was used for the research of effective physical education teaching research ALT-PE (Tinning, Kirk &Evans p. 139). This method of research was focussed on monitoring a student’s engagement and successful completion of the task.
The research conducted by Judith Placek found that “for most teachers and student teachers the dominant concerns in teaching physical education are to keep the children ‘busy, happy and good’” (Tinning, Kirk &Evans, 1993). “Success, in many cases, is not Sharon or Bob learning to jump shot correctly. Success is related to the immediate, observable happenings in the gym. Are the students participating (busy), enjoying themselves (happy), and doing what the teacher directs (good)? (Placek, 1983, p. 54)
When this was written in 1993 one of the main concerns with young people was the amount of time spent watching TV as the main source of their entertainment. Tinning, Kirk and Evans point out that for children to engage in their education they wanted to be entertained or they would disengage. Since the rapid growth of technology our lifestyles have changed and become more demanding. The population of developing countries has become less active leading toward significant health issues that impact the whole community.
The World Health Organisation released a Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health in response to the concerns of the changing lifestyles of developed countries in the last 25 years. (WHO, 2012) “Because of these changes in dietary and lifestyle patterns, chronic NCDs —including obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension and stroke, and some types of cancer — are becoming increasingly significant causes of disability and premature death in both developing and newly developed countries, placing additional burdens on already overtaxed national health budgets” (WHO 2012).
In 2007-08, one quarter of Australian children (or around 600,000 children aged 5-17 years) were overweight or obese, up four percentage points from 1995. Studies have shown that once children become obese they are more likely to stay obese into adulthood and have an increased risk of developing diseases associated with obesity (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010). The issue today for physical education teachers is still one of engagement and the need for students to have fun however these alone do not fully satisfy the curriculum standards by which we operate.
The Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) Health and Physical Education guidelines states; “(schools) provides students with knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to achieve a degree of autonomy in developing and maintaining their physical, mental, social and emotional health” (VELS, 2012). A student can be fully engaged, having fun and behaving well while not being aware of learning anything. So if keeping students ‘busy, happy and good’ is not enough then what does make a good physical education teacher?
The Alliance for a healthier generation suggests that PE focuses more on the acquisition of lifetime skills and knowledge and exposes students to a wide variety of physical activities that can be engaged in for a lifetime (Alliance for a healthier Generation 2012). The Victorian Essential Learning Standards states “It promotes the potential for lifelong participation in physical activity through the development of motor skills and movement competence, health-related physical fitness and sport education.
” (VELS 2012) It is obvious that as physical education teachers we have the opportunity to impact students for the rest of their lives either in a positive or a negative way. Unfortunately today there are children that have negative experiences in Physical Education. These experiences have the potential to negatively impact a student for the rest of their lives preventing them from enjoying regular participation in a local sporting and health community.
VELS Health and Physical Education focuses on the importance of “lifelong participation in physical activity through the development of motor skills and movement competence, health-related physical fitness and sport education. ” (VELS, 2012) What the curriculum has set out to do is provide a positive foundation where students can be immersed in a motivating culture, that is “a force that energises, sustains and directs behaviour toward a goal” (Egan, Kauchak, 2007, p. 298).
Some of the problems facing today’s physical education classes are outlined by Kathryn Meldrum and Jacqui Peters that include “an overcrowded curriculum, teacher who don’t like physical education won’t teach it, PE is not an academic area, teachers don’t have enough confidence to teach it, the schools facilities and equipment are poor” (Meldrum & Peters, 2012, p. 12). The lack of motivation is clear and passed onto students resulting in poor participation, low motivation and a negative impact that can affect a rise in chronic health issues.
The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians addresses the role played by schools to “promote the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, moral, spiritual and aesthetic development of young Australians” (Meldrum & Peters, 2012, p. 13). To address the issue of ‘busy, happy, good’ quality physical education programs need to be embraced by the whole school community. One of the aims of physical education is to enable students to develop positive attitudes towards physical activity and lifelong habits of participation.
The initial physical activity experiences which the child has at school will impact significantly on attitudes and practices in later life. Hence we need to ensure that the experiences in physical activity at school are positive in order to achieve this aim. (NSW Government, 2012) The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (USA) have outlined four components that contribute to high-quality physical education programs they include; opportunity to learn, meaningful content, appropriate instruction and student and program assessment.
These alone are not enough to address the issues facing today’s students. Colin Marsh in his fifth edition of ‘Becoming a Teacher’ partly describes a good teacher to have “humanity and warmth – to know at all times what students in class are doing and also to care about what they are doing. ” (Marsh, 2010, p. 3) Good teachers need to be able to motivate students. Generally students who are motivated have more positive attitudes and are more satisfied, persist on difficult tasks, and process information in depth and excel in learning experiences (Egan, Kauchak 2007).
There is no one solution to providing a quality physical education program in schools today. Clearly we cannot be satisfied with the notion of ‘busy, happy, good’. Physical education encompasses physical mental emotional needs of students while creating socially engaged citizens, leaders and community minded citizens. Physical education is providing a platform of skills and motivation to further a life of healthy lifestyle habits. Physical education classes are not fitness centres where students receive their weekly exercise program and are kept engaged for the time spent there.
To facilitate these needs takes cooperation from all school staff working together to strengthen Physical Education programs in local schools. Skilled teachers that are connected into local communities guiding students to further pursue what they have engaged in at school. Physical education is the one subject that has the greatest and longest lasting impact in a student’s life so we need to deliver a quality program to every student. Reference List
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, ‘Health: Obesity’, retrieved 29th August 2012, http://www. abs. gov. au/ausstats/[email protected] nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1370. 0~2010~Chapt er~Obesity%20(4. 1. 6. 6. 3) Eagan, P, Kauchak, D 2007, Theories of Motivation In Educational Psychology: Windows on Classrooms, 7th Edition, Pearson Education Publication, Upper Saddle River, NJ Marsh, C 2010, Becoming a Teacher: Knowledge, Skills and Issues, 5th Edition, Pearson Publication, Frenchs Forest, NSW
Meldrum, K, Peters, J 2012, Learning to teach health and physical education: The student, the teacher and the curriculum, Pearson Publication, Frenchs Forest, NSW National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 2012, ‘Key Points of Quality Physical Education’, retrieved 29th August 2012, http://www. aahperd. org/naspe/publications/teachingTools/QualityPE. cfm NSW Department of Eduaction, 2012, ‘What is good physical education? ’, retrieved 29th August 2012.
http://www. curriculumsupport.education. nsw. gov.au/secondary/pdhpe/assets/pdf/pa_025. pdf Placek, J 1983, Conceptions of success in teaching: Busy, happy and good? Teachings in Physical Education, Human Kinetics Publishers, Champaign, Illinois Tinning, R, Kirk, D & Evans, J 1993, Learning to teach physical education, Prentice Hall Publication, Melbourne World Health Organisation, 2012, ‘Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health’, retrieved 29th August 2012, http://www. who. int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/trs916/intro/en/