This was written for and originally posted on PE Pedagogy.
What is a philosophy? Simply it is our most basic beliefs, concepts and attitudes that we have. Our philosophy has been shaped by the people around us and through our observation of them. It is defined by our experiences, our acquired knowledge and through our education, which as teachers is on-going. It guides our decisions in everything we say and everything we do, including when teaching Physical Education.
These following statements make my current philosophy when teaching PE:
- Success in my subject is a child who leaves school and is able to be physically active for life.
- Value our subject for what it is. It is unique. Don’t try to justify its educational value by making it something it is not.
- Physical Education is not sport, but sport is part of Physical Education.
- Keep the main think; learning in, through and about movement, the main thing.
- PE is not the body vs. the mind. This approach can rob students of the cognitive, social and affective rewards as well as the physical in our subject.
- High expectations of effort and behaviour clearly shared and followed up is key in creating a safe environment for students to learn. This comes from embedding good routines with classes.
- Progress in PE is never linear. What you see in one lesson is performance. Real learning occurs over time and this takes patience, support and encouragement in our subject.
- If it is a choice of gaining evidence and grading or speaking to children individually about their own personal progress then choose the latter.
- Good questions are more important than objectives and outcomes.
- Observing and talking to your students will give you all the information you ever require, try to master both.
What is that you say? You haven’t got a PE Philosophy? We all have one. What we don’t do is try to verbalise it, to write it down and express it to ourselves and to others. Putting your approach to teaching PE in philosophical terms may seem unnecessary or a pointless exercise. However I believe we do need to verbalise it, to see if it holds up under scrutiny or challenge. If it does then we can truly say our actions and our words are authentic. If not then we can then reshape or redefine.
When you have time to reflect and think try writing 10 statements that define your philosophy of teaching PE. Keep them simple and try to live by them. At school we are filled with interminable choices. Defining our philosophy will help us to make those choices that we value and think are best for the students in our care.