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What should Physical Education look like in the 21st Century?

Evan Scott, M.Ed, C.A.A. Director of Athletics International School of Monagas

Yes, there has been a lot of studies and research out there on the this topic as well as studies showing direct links as to how physical activity improves academic performance, areas specializing in the fields of pedagogy, exercise physiology, motor learning and sociology of sport and physical education.

So, what does physical education look like in the 21st Century? Well for starters, it’s not just “let them play.” Ask any physical educator who respects their craft, what their views are regarding physical education vs. the perception that physical education is glorified recess or gym class. As the saying goes “anyone can throw the balls out, but only a professional can get them back.”

Between the 1970s and 2000 there was a movement toward physical education of being fitness oriented, (i.e.: fitness grams) while moving toward using technology within physical education classes.

Old School Physical Education Philosophy focused on developing athletes and educators were not held accountable for the use of pedagogy, thus making the field unnecessary and or expendable, while having those who were true to the craft defend their position that physical educators are educators and not just “gym teachers.” While doing my student teaching in Pennsylvania, I once heard a fellow educator say to my coop, “Gym teachers, are pseudo-educators.” Such is the perception of physical education to some in the field of education.

So, where does this put physical education now? Shall we dare say we are now in the “P.E. Revolution”? Is that so different than saying “Education Reform” in the areas of humanities?

The focus within the “P.E. Revolution” is an active lifestyle, fitness (in the area of exercise physiology), pedagogy (national and state standards); formative and summative assessment and technology usage, “maximum participation-maximum movement” and not so much on skill development, which is a far cry from the “let them play” era.

Although there are some roadblocks that the physical education reform encounters within public, independent and international schools (for example, negative perceptions of P.E. and the lack of resources to promote technology within a 21st Century physical education environment.) Schools that fully support physical educators are making a difference in providing the resources needed for a 21st Century physical education classroom environment, (for example, pedometers, strapless heart rate monitors, laptop carts, iPads etc.)

Integrating technology, such as Google glass and GoPros in class have launched the “P.E. Revolution” to a new level of teaching and learning in physical education classes.

Closing Thoughts

Using such tools as heart rate monitors, pedometers and other wearables (such as FitBit and TomTom) used in collaboration with web-based assessment tools like Edmodo, Sesame and others will further support the P.E. Revolution throughout the 21st Century.


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