Curriculum PE

Breaking the mythcycle

“who you are becoming shapes what you know or come to know.”

A mythcycle (Hedberg and Jönsson, 1978) is a common belief shared by a group, profession or organisation that what they are doing is the main reason for their success. In doing this they disregard any other reasons and any other ways of doing. People then on a daily basis look for confirmation that this myth exists and point to it to justify the the continuation of what they are doing. It then ingrains their way of thinking and their way of acting.

The ‘multi-sport-as-sport-techniques‘ curriculum approach is one such mythcycle that exists in PE. A different sport every half a term, with learning outcomes mainly focusing on the perfection of sport techniques through repeated isolated practice. The PE Teachers who advocate this approach often experienced success themselves through this approach as a child. They then join the profession and gain success by replicating this way of doing PE. It is confirmed through their justifications and observations – by providing lots of different sports then children will find one they enjoy, if we spend too long on a sport children will become bored, look at our GCSE PE numbers and extra-curricular teams. The children who succeed in this approach, are more likely to become PE teachers, who are more likely to replicate that approach. This then creates a mythcycle and a singular approach to PE, making any sort of change extremely difficult. Without attempting to break this mythcyle one possible future of PE is extinction of the subject itself (Kirk, 2010).

In Physiotherapy as bricolage: Theorizing expert practice (Shaw and DeForge, 2012) the two authors use the idea of a bricolage as an attempt to de-stabilise the notion that a single authoritative approach to the practice of physiotherapy ought to be idealised. Bricoleur is a French word that means ‘a handyman who makes use of any and all the tools at hand to complete a task‘. Bricolage therefore is the product of a bricoleur. The idea of a PE Teacher as a bricoleur is one way of attempting to break multi-sport-as-sport-techniques mythcycle and develop expertise as a PE Teacher that is beyond replicating a singular way of knowing, doing and being.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur would be reluctant to privilege one mode of doing over another.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur accepts multiplicity rather than privileging one way of knowing.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur is intellectually informed, widely read and is able to draw on diverse conceptions of reality and knowledge to inform their practice.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur seeks to understand the world and movement in terms of its contextual relatedness to other people and the environment.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur embraces a world view of relationships and interconnectedness.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur understands that culture and self are inseparable.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur is a ‘boundary crosser‘ seeking the interconnections between domains, disciplines and bodies of knowledge to enhance their practice.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur develops a tentative and hesitant nature about their practice, which leads to a critical perspective about their own assumptions.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur weaves together a myriad of evidence and insights which can contribute to the development of expertise in their practice.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur is shaped by partiality calling into question the authority of any singular approach to PE.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur deconstructs and reconstructs the concept of expert PE Teaching as a more holistic and less entrenched way of knowing.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur considers not only knowledge that is readily obtained through observation and assessment but also the social and emotional experience of the form of movement.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur is troubled by definitions of expertise that elicit the notions of ‘the ideal‘, ‘the goal‘ and ‘the true way of knowing things‘.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur believes that expertise always consists of partial knowledge claims that will emphasise different elements of PE practice.

A PE Teacher as bricoleur does not make claims of authoritarian expertise, but readily confronts the tentative nature of their own knowledge and practice.

The domain of teaching PE is a complex and often unpredictable one. One way of dealing with that complexity is embracing a way of knowing and doing that we are comfortable with and what we have previously experienced. We  provide young people experiences similar to our own which gave us success, without ever questioning the potential survivorship bias that comes with that. This is what creates a mythcycle. The PE Teacher who sees themselves as a bricoleur would embrace the complexity of our subject and set out to make use of as many tools (eg. learning domains, teaching methods, assessments) as possible to understand and respond to this complexity. They would look to move beyond being a journeyman who accurately replicates the current mythcycle, by developing expertise through seeking knowledge from multiple perspectives and recognising the potential value in each way of doing.

Definitions of proficiency levels (adapted from Hoffman, 1998)
Naïve One who is ignorant of a domain.
Novice One who is new – a probationary member. There has been minimal exposure of the domain.
Initiate One who has been through an initiation ceremony – a novice who has bugun introductory instruction.
Apprentice One who is beyond the introductory level. Traditonally, the apprentice is immersed in the domain by living and assisting someone at a higher level. The length of the apprenticeship depends on the domain, ranging from 1 to 12 years.
Jounreyman One who can perform a day’s labour unsupervised, although working under orders. An experienced and reliable worker, or one who has achieved a level of comptence. It is possible to remain at this level for life.
Expert The distinguised jounreyman, highly regarded by peers, whose judgements are uncommonly accurate and reliable, whose performance shows consummate skill and economy off effort, and whjo can effectively with tough cases. Also, an expert is one who has special skills or knowledge derved from extensive experience with sub-domains.
Master Traditonally, a master is any expert who is also qualified to teach those at a lower level. A master is one of an elite group of experts whose judgements set the regulations, standards, or ideals.

By @ImSporticus

Lecturer in PE, Sport and Physical Activity. Helping others to flourish through movement.

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