Physical education, teacher’s personal experiences and memories
The personal experience of elementary school teachers when they were students is fundamental for their vision of Physical Education in their classes. A questionnaire was applied to a stratified sample of 150 elementary school teachers; to know their personal experiences in PE; to characterize the positive and negative dimensions of elementary school teacher’s personal experiences in PE; to differentiate the nature of the personal experiences of elementary school teachers in PE, in relation to his/her professional experience. As positive aspects of attending PE, teachers identify factors associated to the Specific Effects of PE category and as to negative dimensions of PE we highlight: No answer, School Facilities, Teaching-Learning Process and the Teacher category.
Introduction Perceptions derived from experiences lived in the school context and in Physical Education (PE) are related to the sporting participation of girls (Fox, 1988), and with quality PE programs that foster the construction of student’s positive perceptions (Trudeau & Sheppard, 2005). We identify as conditioning factors of curricular decisions in PE the personal experience of the teacher as student the perception of the role of PE in school, the very material context of action and initial and continuous education (Cordoba, 2002). This perspective highlights the importance of Physical Sporting Activities (PSA) personal experiences in the teachers’ pedagogical decisions and allows us to state that the PE hour confronts the teacher with his/her body story, the relationship with his/her own body and affinity towards the area (Cordoba, 2002:4).
In Australia, generalist teachers’ personal experiences in PE and the relationship with their attitudes towards PE evidenced that positive individual experiences were related to attitudes and perceptions about the teaching of PE (Morgan et al. 2001). The converse was also observed: negative experiences in PE as students stimulate low levels of perception of PE (Morgan et al. 2001). The importance of positive PE experiences in primary education is emphasised. So our objectives in this work was: i) To know the personal experiences of the elementary school teachers in PE; ii) To characterize the positive and negative dimensions of elementary school teachers personal experiences in PE; iii) To differentiate the nature of the personal experiences of elementary school teachers in PE, in relation to his/her professional experience.
In the methodological field a questionnaire was applied to a stratified sample of 150 elementary school teachers (21 Male; 129 Female), divided into groups of 30 in relation to years of teaching practice – 21. The System for Categorizing the Nature of Experiences in PE (Rocha, 1998) was used to analyse collected data in terms of descriptive statistics (Neves, 2007).
A residual number of teachers attended PE classes in all levels of schooling (4.6%). High school (50.2%) had the highest level of attendance in PE.
Table 1 – PE Attendance – school level
Table 1. Physical education, teacher’s personal experiences and memories
Other results, about the cumulative values of PE attendance during school in several levels (table 2), the 2nd basic cycle education together with high school had the highest values (62%).
Table 2 – PE Attendance – professional experience
Table 2. Physical education, teacher’s personal experiences and memories
-Positive Dimensions of PE
In table 3 we can see that the positive dimensions of PE (global results) fall in the Educational Effects of PE category (50.7%), followed by No answer (24.7%) and Teaching-Learning Process (17.3%). We highlight the absence of reference to the material conditions of the school as a positive dimension.
Table 3 – Positive dimensions of PE – global results
Table 3. Physical education, teacher’s personal experiences and memories
The qualitative data about positive dimensions of PE in the main categories are:
-Specific Educational Effects of PE – better fitness”; “more pleasure for practical physical activity”; “learn sports”; “motor development “; “notions of games rules”; “practice of several sports”; “motor skills development”; “learn new game skills”;
-Teaching – Learning Process – “to promote the socialization”; ”fun”; “different activity”; “competition”; “class ambiance”;
-General Educational Effects – “global development “; “autonomy development “; “cooperation development“.
The positive dimensions, in relation to professional experience (table 4), don’t have references in the School Facilities Category. The Teacher Category has only 3 references. As we can see, the relevant category is Specific Effects of PE for all subgroups of teachers.
Table 4 – Positive dimensions of PE – professional experience
Table 4. Physical education, teacher’s personal experiences and memories
-Negative Dimensions of PE
As to negative dimensions of PE we highlight No answer (50.7%) with the biggest number of references and School Facilities (22%), Teaching-Learning Process (8.9%). As opposed to what we can see in the positive dimensions, the Teacher category (6.4%) has more negative references. Table 5 – Negative dimensions of PE – global results
Table 5. Physical education, teacher’s personal experiences and memories
The qualitative data about the negative dimensions of PE in the main categories are:
- School Facilities – “few weekly hours”; “lack of conditions (spaces) or materials”; “deteriorated material”; “lack of means and equipment to practice some modalities”; “the lack of appropriate a physical space for PE practices “ -
Teaching – Learning Process – “lack of structuring of exercises”; “the monotony of activities”; “the fostering of unhealthy competitiveness”
- Teacher – “ill-prepared teachers”; “lack of commitment from teachers”; “lack of interest from some of the PE teachers” In relation to professional experience, teachers with less experience make more references, to School Facilities, Teaching-Learning Process and Teacher Category (table 6).
Table 6 – Negative dimensions of PE – professional experience
Table 6. Physical education, teacher’s personal experiences and memories
Discussion and conclusions
1. A residual number of teachers attended PE classes in all levels of schooling;
2. PE positive dimensions fall in the category Specific Educational Effects of PE, followed by No answer and Teaching-Learning Process;
3. We highlight the absence of reference to the material conditions of the school as a positive dimension;
4. As to negative dimensions of PE we highlight: No answer, School Facilities, Teaching-Learning Process and the Teacher category;
5. As positive aspects of attending PE, teachers identify factors associated to the Specific Educational Effects of PE category; 1075
6. Younger and less experienced teachers single out factors associated to the Specific Effects of PE category, giving more value to motor activities and abilities, sporting techniques and their contexts of practice, learning and perfecting ability in classes;
7. However older and more experienced teachers single out more factors associated with the General Educational Effects category;
8. Younger teachers identify more negative aspects in PE, perhaps because they experienced more and more diversified PE, being more critical when they single out School Facilities, and also Teacher;
9. For the majority of respondents, their negative experiences in PE are associated with the form and context of development of the area in each school;
10. Like in other studies (Neves, 2004) the Teacher category appears as one of the most singled out in the negative perceptions of PE, suggesting that professional socialisation in PE is initiated in perceptions acquired as students, it being therefore important to review professional practices and habits that contribute towards such outcomes.
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MORGAN, P., BOURKE, S. THOMPSON, K. (2001). The Influence of personal school physical education experiences on non-specialist teacher’s attitudes, The Annual Conference of Australian Association for Research in Education
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NEVES, R. (2007). A construção curricular da educação física no 1º ciclo do ensino básico – conhecimento e percepções dos professores. Unpublished PhD thesis presented to the Department of Didactics and Educational Technology – University of Aveiro.
NEVES, R. (2004). A educação física revisitada a partir das experiências escolares de futuros professores do 1º CEB. Revista digital EFDeportes.com – Buenos Aires