I recently had a frank discussion with a number of students in one of my classes who were regular abstainers from practical lessons whether they had their PE uniforms or not. I asked the two students to write down why they didn’t like participating in practical lessons. They came up with a range of statements about not enjoying getting sweaty at school, not having time or appropriate facilities to shower after lessons and not enjoying team sports. However, they did mention that they understand the need to remain active and that it’s important to their health. It’s just that they prefer walking and lower intensity activities. So, it got me thinking, is our role just to teach students the skills and strategies required to participate in team games or is it about developing lifelong learners? I’m pretty sure its a bit about both, but is it worth pushing one at the expense of the other?
The result of our discussion and the resultant reflection on the statements is that I’ve decided to run a separate ‘test’ unit for them – they’re my beta testers I guess. Currently, during our practical lessons, these two students have created a blog (aptly named – http://www.wehatepe.tumbler.com) to record their ideas and reflect on their progress. They have been set the task of researching what’s required of them to stay healthy ie how often they need to exercise, what intensity – and setting, goals on what they plan to achieve. The plan is that they will adhere to their ‘exercise plan’ outside of school and will then spend time reflecting on how they are going, what’s stopped them (barriers to participation), what they enjoy about it, what they don’t, how they can make it more interesting over time (adding variety).
My hope that this will provide them with an opportunity to develop an understanding of how they can include physical activity into their daily routines to remain healthy and develop the skills to plan for and overcome obstacles to achieving their goals. They’ll still be involved in some of our practical units/lessons on movement composition, skill development but at other times they’ll be able to use this time to reflect on their progress or even use the time to continuing exercise how they choose to.
I’m hoping this works to produce individuals who not only see the importance of being active but who become lifelong participants in physical activity.
My question to you is, is this worthwhile? Is it better to have them physical active somewhere and engaged in learning about it during class time, or should I persit with them with the whole class in practical lessons? What else can I try?
I look forward to your thoughts.