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PE teachers made me bunk off PE!

February 11, 2012

Is the focus on competitive sports still killing PE for those who aren’t “good” enough?

This is the primary question posed in an article from the UK edition of The Guardian (

As much as we’d like to not admit it, we’ve all seen this phenomenon.  How many times have students showed up to PE class with a note saying how sick they are or how they’re not feeling well from their parents when, in reality, they seem perfectly fine?  How many times have we seen the “inferior” students scolded by traditional PE teachers in addition to their superior classmates?

Personally, I remember being in an elementary school physical and health education class and the focus was on team sports and competition.  As I’ve gone back to elementary for my field experience/stage, I have seen the TGfU approach being the predominant curriculum model put into practice.  I do believe in the TGfU approach; however, I’m definitely not disregarding team sports and competition and do believe both of these can co-exist within the model in healthy doses.  That being said, it is nice to see the shift from teaching through repetition and classic drills to teaching games in an effort to enable learners to enjoy the game at hand and even instill the desire to learn techniques and improve game performance.

Going back to the article, the subject-content is on secondary school.  Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen as a former high school student and both my field experiences/stages at the secondary level, the TGfU model ceases to exist.  The focus is on repetition, repetition, and repetition and very few progressions leading to the sport itself.  Once more, looking at the other side of the token, I have seen successful use of the Sport Education Model (SEM) and in fact, I really enjoy this model as well.  Every student has a role and this allows for lessons to be more student-centered and focused on the constructivist approach to learning.  I’ve seen this model at work and strongly believe it fosters a lot of learning.

However, I suppose some teachers disregard the TGfU approach with the belief that it is too challenging to implement.  Personally, I believe that the TGfU approach does require a bit more planning at the secondary level than at the elementary level.  I have found that a lot of students at the secondary level  (from schools that I’ve been at) resist modified-games if they aren’t planned properly.  When modifying games and layering progressions, it is imperative to make sure there is something substantial that makes playing the modified game/progression of the game worthwhile.  There must always be a challenge and not simply playing the modified game for the sake of playing the modified game.

Anyways, that’s more than enough from me.  The article is definitely worth a read!

What do you think?  Where are we today and where are we going in our pedagogical practices in the gymnasium?


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