The Fall and Rise of Physical Education: Part 2

As George Graham takes us through the eight categories that he believes Physical Educators fall into in Part 1 of his series: The Fall and Rise of Physical Education, we assess his statements within our PE community. Now, 8 days before the PETE conference in Atlanta, George assesses the effectiveness of PETE programs, and offers his candid opinion on creating successful clinical faculty.

Below is an introduction to Part 2 of the series. You can read the full post here.

This is the second of four blogs I am writing related to K-12 physical education in the United States. In the first blog, the Fall and Rise of Physical Education, I suggested that physical educators could be classified into eight related categories—rollers, gamers, fitters, brainers, innovators, at-riskers, activators and teachers. The last category of the eight was teacher. For me this is the most desirable category of physical educator because in my view these individuals are attempting to implement quality programs that lead to the physical literacy of their students as defined in many of the Shape America documents. In my opinion it takes a great deal of knowledge, expertise and practical experience to become a teacher of physical education as defined in the previous blog. Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) programs are no doubt the major influence on whether an undergraduate becomes a teacher—or one of the other seven categories of physical educator described in the previous blog.

Typically future K-12 physical educators attend a college or university and major in a program that is designed to prepare them to teach in the schools. These programs often lead to state licensure or certification. Some PETE programs are more effective than others and their graduates begin their careers ready to begin implementing quality programs of physical education—i.e. they are on their way to becoming teachers. Other graduates, however, appear to lack the prerequisite skills, background and understanding necessary to implement quality programs. Or perhaps, equally or more importantly, they lack the commitment and dedication to do the hard work necessary to develop quality programs in less than ideal environments.  Why?

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3 thoughts on “The Fall and Rise of Physical Education: Part 2

  1. I believe that PETE programs that do not prepare their students to likely do not have faculty that were practitioners in the field. That said, I believe the greater problem is that the field is more powerful than the classroom. That is to say that many graduates enter the profession well prepared. Yet, they land a position and instead of implementing the strong instructional practices they acquired in their preparation, they may abandon these undergraduate experiences for the practices that are already in place with their veteran colleagues. As an example, I offer the abandonment of performance based assessments, based on our national standards, to compliance based assessment, i.e. grading determined by attire and effort. Just my thoughts!

    • I agree and would like to add to your statement Gary. I began teaching full time about 8 years ago, and the most difficult part of transitioning from student to professional was that I was not prepared for all of the resistance I would face as a professional physical educator. During my PETE program, I was surrounded by students and faculty who were as passionate as I was about fitness, health and wellness, but when I began teaching, it was clear that I was the only one who cared about these things as much as I do. I was extremely frustrated in the beginning of my career (and I still have my moments if I’m being completely honest) and this frustration encouraged me to go back to school a little earlier than planned to get my administrative degree. I think it is necessary for administrative programs to include elements of PE, so that future administrators understand how important our PE programs really are and the potential that they could reach if given a little more positive attention.

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