The thoughts, and there were many, that I immediately started to consider revolved around the following: How can physical education support physical activity? How can sports coaches (and other agents/agencies) support physical activity (as part of, and removed from) physical education? Do students actually understand that the 'matches', 'games', 'drills' (I don't like that word!), 'activities' and other terms interchangeably used, are actually just as much about getting them active as it is to learn the physical, social, cognitive, technical, tactical and lifestyle elements of those activities? What role do physical education teachers have with regards to challenging and changing the attitudes of children and young people so that they become physically active for life? Simply, do teachers have the time, resource(s) and support to impact on the lifelong learning and motivation of their pupils so that they stay physically active for life? These questions, and many more of them, are highly relevant for exploration to provide an empirical understanding so that it can be shared with teachers and coaches globally. Health, in a time where people are living longer than ever and are therefore becoming exposed to new diseases and illnesses, is an area that cannot be ignored. I believe, and I hope many others do too, that physical education can contribute influentially.
The funding being acquired by the research teams who Professor Taylor work with are, in some cases, over £1 million - a huge figure! What disappointed me, though, was physical education was not mentioned at all during the talk other than Professor Taylor mentioning he primarily trained as a teacher in that subject before his career moved on. However, Professor Taylor may have chosen not to discuss physical education (and sport), like he mentioned with nutrition, for a whole range of issues. That said, I would be as bold as to state that physical education needs to be considered with regards to how it can contribute more robustly to preparing children and young people to tackle life's challenges and equip those individuals to counter them head on.
Journal Articles that I have read that are written by David Kirk, Ashley Casey, Leen Haerens to name but a few, have argued the case for sport and health-based pedagogical models for physical education that are philosophically grounded. Physical education, though, continues to find itself in this contested space between competing ideas, discourses, ideologies and philosophical perspectives. But, after reading some thought provoking work by Susan Capel and Margaret Whitehead in Debates in Physical Education; they argue that physical education is concerned with learning in, through and about movement. According to Professor Taylor, physical activity can be as simple as enabling individuals to find pleasure during moderate exercise so that they continue to participate in future. To this end, if our pupils are learning in, through and about movement they must be physically active - is this always enjoyable, though? Physical education continues to be uniquely well placed to support individuals in learning about physical activity, health and movement and I am now thinking (maybe contentiously), is physical education actually getting the support it needs to continue this endeavour? I have no doubt that teachers will do their upmost to respect and support individual learners needs, make lesson safe and fun and inspire individuals to continue to participate in physical activity and sport for life. But is education policy and governance restricting physical education, its staff and ultimately its learners from having the impact we all know it can deliver?
These all are worthy points and are only a collection of what my reflections were on this talk today. Some of these questions I cannot answer, some, I hope, may have already been answered and if not, I hope I can join other like minded individuals who share the same passion for physical education in making a lasting impact on the learning of children, young people and adolescents. I'd love nothing more than to hear your points of view on the issues raised here so please, comment away.