Enhancing Practice by Rethinking Practice

Authored by: Kirsten Petrie , Kate Kernaghan

Routledge Handbook of Primary Physical Education

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138682344
eBook ISBN: 9781315545257
Adobe ISBN:


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As interested practitioner/researchers, we often ask primary school–aged children, “What did you learn in physical education today?” Their response usually begins with, “We did …” and is finished as they describe the activities, games, or sports they did, such as high jump, cross-country, football, gymnastics, or fitness. When we endeavour to probe a little more about what they learnt about, “You did…. and what did you learn?” they stare blankly at us, with a look that suggests we are so stupid because they have already told us and we clearly did not understand them the first time. At the same time, we are equally disturbed by the lessons we frequently observe that have a very explicit learning focus on skills that seem to have little relevance to the present or future needs of children. For example, we recently watched 5- and 6-year-olds spend 40 minutes learning the key techniques associated with galloping, and in a similar way we have observed lines of 11-year-olds waiting their turn to high jump. While we recognise that galloping is a functional locomotor skill and high jumping is a core athletic event, we are left pondering if these are the most important skills all children need to be learning? If they are not, then what should we be spending time on in our physical education programmes? How often will these children gallop or use their high jumping skills as they transition through school and into adulthood?

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