Physical education represents an umbrella term for a wide range of purposeful physical pursuits that can enrich lives and improve the quality of living Bailey, 2007. The four areas of experience; health fitness and well-being, creative activities, competitive activities and adventurous activities have the power to improve and transform lives. Arnold 1997 came up with a unique way of characterising aims for physical education. Physical education should be taught through the physical, of the physical, and about the physical. 'Through the physical' is concerned with social interaction and moral development like taking turns for example, 'Of the physical' is concerned with skill and motor development and 'about the physical' is concerned with how one learns about fitness.
Physical education is probably the most significant physical activity context for developing character (Shields & Bredemeier, 1994). Physical education uses many similar activities as sport, but for a different reason and with different teaching methods and different outcomes. Physical education programmes have less focus on competition as it is one of four strands in the curriculum whereas sports main focus is competition. Competition is good for some children but not good for others as they may dislike been in a competition situation and may drop out and become inactive adults. Shields & Bredemeier state that Physical education provides optimal context for moral development because it is organized and structured. These include honesty, fairness, and responsibility. At Key stage 2 in competitive activities children cooperate with others and observe the conventions of fair play, equality and appropriate conduct in individual and team activities (WAG, 2008). This is what the curriculum is trying to achieve through competitive activities.
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In sport social values like loyalty, dedication, teamwork and sacrifice are important for good social character habits. Sport has the potential to build character or characters (Horn, 2008). Horn suggests that sport may be argued as an appropriate and powerful development context for teaching moral values. However sport can negatively influence opponents by endorsing cheating and unsporting like behaviour. Bredemeister & Shields, 1995 describes sport character in four virtues: compassion, fairness, sportsmanship, and integrity and believe that the possession of these qualities facilitates the consistent display of moral action in sport. The development of a character through sport and physical education programmes involve different methods of teaching and coaching. Examples of good character building can involve
Including and supporting others in a game situation
Pass to teammates instead of shooting for goal all the time.
Sportsmanship/Fairness when calling fouls which takes courage and strength.
Taking pride on their own improvements and efforts.
Many scholars and researchers believe that moral/character development is a lifelong and holistic process. Dorty, 2006 indicate if sport is part of young people lives, then the sport experience will influence his or her character development - and hopefully in a positive way. Sport may invite some element of not telling the truth by some people. An example of this could be coming close to an end of a game where one may be losing by one goal and will do everything in their power to win the game which may invite some cheating.
Physical education and sport has the potential to build character but so can many other subjects in the school curriculum. Subjects like religion and history can build character but they are just stories from the past where as physical education and sports are real life situations. In class one can get away with coping for example and it is not open to scrutiny while in physical education and sports one cannot get away with doing something wrong as it is widely open to scrutiny from peers, referees, teachers and coaches. Physical education is a dynamic environment where things happen quickly and children have to make swift decisions. Children may experience real situations where failure to act responsibly will have unfortunate consequences for themselves and their peers (Cooper, 2010). Physical education gives children and young people opportunities to learn in the outdoors. However, often they are in situations where they have to take responsibility for their own actions. Higgins 2006 argues that taking responsibility is a more worthwhile aim for outdoor learning than self esteem. Children and young people may learn two curriculums, the taught curriculum and the hidden curriculum. The taught curriculum is the learning of subjects and the hidden curriculum is concerned with what they pick up from their favourite teachers which become role-models. Whether teachers like it or not their thoughts, feeling and dispositions are 'picked up' and become, for better or worse, a model of what is normal or even acceptable (Arnold, 1997, p. 75). Arnold suggests that it may be other experiences of school life a teacher showing negative qualities at a football match when the opponents are winning. Competitive activities are one of four areas in the curriculum but if there is too much emphasises on competition they it may lead to anti-social behaviour. The teacher should control the level of competition in a lesson of an appropriate tasks and group setting.
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Carr 1991 will argue that the teacher has no role in child development. What is required in moral matters does not always lead to appropriate feelings or right actions. However, Arnold 1997 indicates that the role of the teacher can and should have moral influence upon the pupils with whom he or she comes in contact with. The role of the teacher is crucial. Moral and character development does not immediately happen. It takes a great deal of planning to develop cooperative teaching. It is up to the teacher to explain fairness and to have respect for all participants, whether on the same side or opposition. Act of consideration and sportsmanship are not in the rules but the teacher may act as a guide and mentor to encourage the way sport should be conducted. (Arnold 1997) also argues that although the teacher may play a major role in moral education some teachers may not be trained or competent in moral matters.
Developing cooperative skills is very important for children who need to develop their social skills (Wainwright, 2012). Mosston (1986) presents a spectrum of teaching styles which consist of Command, Practice, Reciprocal, self-check, inclusion, Guided discovery, Divergent, Individual, learner initiated and self teaching. While students are performing these roles they may take the responsibilities more serious than off-task behaviours while improving social and personal skills. All teaching styles apart from command and practice are useful in developing personal and social learning outcomes through growing student ownership of the learning process. The second half of Mosston's spectrum provides opportunities for students to take ownership and responsibility for their learning. Mosston's spectrum was so influential it was described as "significance advance in the theory of physical education pedagogy in recent history" (Nixon & Locke 1973, p. 127). Children also get the chance to plan and implement the program and receive personal and specialized skill and behavioural learning program as the teacher becomes free from full class direct instruction. It can provide an avenue where good social skills can be practiced. Children and young people bring knowledge and experience of their own to school thus getting them involved in the teaching. The lessons get less teacher directed and more student centred.
'Unless children are systematically brought to understand the nature of the practice of the sport, and the principles upon which it is based, it cannot be said they have been properly initiated to it' (Arnold 1997, p. 71)
Arnold indicates that children cannot link the moral ethos of virtues such as honesty, fairness and courage unless they understand the sport. Teachers should explain to learners "why" they are performing a skill and not just focusing on the performance of the skill. Siedentop 1994 presents a model, Teaching Games for Understanding (TGFU)
Physical education is part of compulsory schooling and sport is optional.
Key stage 2 competitive activities! Games are mentioned a lot in the research literature and how it has a big part to play.
Does physical education as a subject have anything unique to offer? Arnold came up with a way of characterizing aims for physical education
Physical education and sport are competing against barriers for good moral and character building. Role models like professional football players...
There was a incident in the London Olympics where two badminton teams were trying to lose their game to get easier opponents in there next round of the tournament. This sends out a very poor message to the world and particularly young people.
Physical education is compulsory in school while sport is optional.
In seeking moral education as a part of personal and social development, advocates a form of curriculum which takes account of at least four factors (Pring 1984, p.117).
Physical education and sport has the potential to influence social, moral and character development but children and young people are not in school forever. There are many outside factors that physical education and sport are constantly competing against. Teachers must create meaningful opportunities for learners. There are people that know what is right but do wrong and this may affect the experience for others.