Am I really a change agent? Can I advocate for PE.

In the past and present, PE has been downgraded as a subject within Irish secondary schools. It is not seen as a valuable subject when compared to an examinable subject. Pe and other minority subjects receive far less resources and hours within the timetable. I feel this limits PE teachers’ ability to provide a comprehensive PE programme. I ask myself, what can we do about our situation? Do we give up and accept our status within the school? Do we do the best with what we’ve got? For me the answer is no. We need to be advocates for our subject. We need to publicly support, hail and encourage the need for PE within our schools.

The awareness for the importance of physical activity and PE is increasing. Obesity levels among adolescents are rising. Disturbingly, for some students, PE is the only time in the week they engage in physical activity and yet it is seen as an unimportant subject. (Lancet) I as a PE teacher believe I need to promote the importance of PE and fight for its status. However, I do agree with a blog I recently read on Sporticus, that we should not advocate PE has a subject with the solution to all problems. I believe instead we need to promote the subject as one which can provide an opportunity for students to holistically develop the mind and body.  It s a subject that can provide students with meaningful experiences leaving them the opportunity to ‘access those benefits on their own terms’.  We need to advocate the kind of PE we believe in.

The next question I ask myself is how can I be an advocate for PE? Firstly, I think it involves embracing change. We need to move with the times and try modern approaches and embrace new curriculum changes. The future of PE is moving from a sports-based approach to a curriculum-based approach. We as PE teachers must educate ourselves on these changes and implement them to the best of our ability.  How can we do this? Technology, is an ever-growing platform right at our fingertips. We can progress our ability to be good PE teachers through engaging in discussions with other teachers online and sharing our resources and experiences. (Gleddie, 2016). I believe interacting with other teachers on social media such as PEPLC will greatly help me grow as a teacher. I can learn from others helping to ensure that I deliver the best PE programme I possibly can which in return I feel will help the status of the subject. As an advocate I feel we need to be leaders within a school. We need to promote the subject. I believe we can do this as both a class and school-based approach. Organising initiatives (e.g. get active week, start the day with yoga exercise etc.) within the school could help us raise awareness and educate both students and staff members. Creativity and innovation is needed. Collaboration will be needed among PE teachers and other staff members in the fight to raise the status of PE in schools.

Overall, I feel being a passionate PE teacher who wants to provide the best PE programme possible for their students goes hand in hand with advocacy for the subject. I firmly believe, being an advocate is and will be important for the survival of PE within the Irish curriculum.

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References:

  • https://drowningintheshallow. wordpress.com/2017/01/28/advocate/
  • Gleddie, D. et al. (2016). Joey: Social media as a tool for professional development. In: A. Casey, V. Goodyear, and K. Armour. Digital Technologies and Learning in Physical Education. Pedagogical cases. London: Routledge.
  • The Lancet. (2017). [online] Thelancet.com. Available at: http://www.thelancet.com/ [Accessed 16 Mar. 2018].
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