18 SES 05, Physical Education Teacher Education: Challenges and Future
School Health and Physical Education (HPE) can be an important cornerstone of producing physically active and healthy people that will contribute to the wellbeing of society as a whole. However, our definition and understanding of what it means to be ‘physically active’ and ‘healthy’ has for some time now and continues to be under constant (re)negotiation. In recent times, this has, for instance, been highlighted by HPE curricula moving from scientific/physiological concepts of physical activity and health to more socially-critical perspectives. Indeed, in New Zealand and Australia (along with other countries such as Sweden) HPE teachers are under similar obligations as stated by the curriculum documents to teach from a socially-critical perspective (MacDonald & Kirk, 1999). Physical education is defined within the New Zealand curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) as a learning area that “fosters critical thinking andaction and enables students to understand the role and significance of physical activity for individuals and society” (p. 23).
Despite these clear messages about the importance of adopting a socially-critical pedagogy in HPE, traditional notions of physical activity, bodies and health are being reproduced both within Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) programmes and the school subject itself (MacDonald et al., 2002). These traditional notions, for instance, include: a shared passion for various sports (Rossi, Sirna & Tinning, 2008); a scientific/physiological view of the body (Matanin & Collier, 2003); and biological assumptions about sex differences (Kirk, 2002).
Our interest in this topic is based on a shared belief that it is not only knowledge about but also ‘how HPE teachers think and feel about education, social justice, physical activity, bodies and health that will be their most important graduate attribute’ (Tinning, 2012, p. 224, italics in original). Specifically, which also is the focus of this paper, we are interested in social justice and socio-critical perspectives and in particular the theory of critical pedagogy as a way of transforming HPE and, indeed, PETE. For us, critical pedagogy has emancipation and social justice as its central aims, and it enables people to obtain the knowledge, skills and power necessary to gain a greater degree of control over their individual and collective lives. It is about identifying inequalities and empowering individuals and groups to take social action to achieve change (Apple, 2003; McLaren, 2003).
The majority of writing to date has focused on theoretical knowledge and documenting critical pedagogical approaches in PETE (see e.g. Kirk, 1986; Fernandez-Balboa, 1995; Macdonald & Brooker, 1999; Hickey, 2001) and there have been few studies conducted which offer insight into how HPE teachers attempt to apply critical pedagogy in schools. This paper reports on one part of a larger collaborative project which focused on how PETE graduates think and feel about, and enact socially-critical perspectives as ‘beginning’ teachers (up to 2 years) or as ‘fully registered’ teachers (after 2 years).
Apple, M.W. (2003). The State and the Politics of Knowledge. New York: Routledge Falmer. Fernandez-Balboa, J. M. (1995). Reclaiming physical education in higher education through critical pedagogy. Quest, 47, 91-114. Hickey, C. (2001). I feel enlightened now, but...: The limits to the pedagogical translation of critical discourses in physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 20, 227-246. Kirk, D. (1986). A critical pedagogy for teacher education: Toward an inquiry-oriented approach. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 5, 230-246. Kirk, David (2002). Physical education: a gendered history. I: Penney, Dawn (red.) Gender and Physical Education. Contemporary issues and future directions. London: Routledge, pp. 24–37. MacDonald, D., & Brooker, R. (1999). Articulating a critical pedagogy in physical education teacher education. Journal of Sport Pedagogy, 5(1), 51-64. MacDonald, D., & Kirk, D. (1999). Pedagogy, the body and Christian identity. Sport, Education and Society, 4(2), 131-142. MacDonald, D, Hunter, L, Carlson, T & Penney, D (2002). Teacher Knowledge and the Disjunction between School Curricula and Teacher Education. Asia-Pasific Journal of Teacher Education 30, pp. 259–275. MacDonald, D., & Kirk, D. (1999). Pedagogy, the body and Christian identity. Sport, Education and Society, 4(2), 131–142. Matanin, M & Collier, C (2003). Longitudinal Analysis of Preservice Teachers’ Beliefs About Teaching Physical Education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education 22, pp. 153–168. McLaren, P. (2003). Life in schools: An introduction to critical pedagogy in the foundations of education. New Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Ministry of Education (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media Limited. Rossi, T, Sirna, K & Tinning, R (2008). Becoming a health and physical education (HPE) teacher: Student teacher ‘Performances’ in the physical education subject department office. Teacher and Teaching Education 24, pp. 1029–1040. Tinning, R. (2012). A socially critical HPE (aka physical education) and the challenge for teacher education. In Barry Down and John Smyth (Eds.), Critical voices in teacher education: teaching for social justice in conservative times (pp. 223–238). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
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