A compass: Navigating my students through a holistic education

As Green (1998) suggest, I am not a philosopher but merely a normal person developing education quotemy PE philosophy through my “lived experiences”. These lived or past experiences of mine, along with the social nature of my life, have led me to develop a holistic teaching philosophy based around being a monist i.e. believing that the mind and body are one (Green, 2006).

When I think of myself as a teacher, I like to see myself as a compass. I am there to help facilitate and guide my students through their education while also developing as individuals and finding their life path. I believe that all my students can achieve and I want to impart this belief onto them as they navigate their way through their second level education.

I want to do more than just educate my students in the traditional sense i.e. the acquisition of exam based knowledge. I believe their education to aid their development as a person as a whole and guide them towards a meaningful life. I know I can have a positive impact on their wellbeing. Thankfully, my holistic and monist approach to teaching, can be seen to be justified within the new education curriculum. Wellbeing and life skills are now seen as important factors in student development and are embedded in the new education curriculum with the main outcome stating “learning opportunities are to enhance the physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing of students” (NCCA, 2017). i.e. the whole child.

I greatly value building a relationship (Lujan and DiCarlo, 2017) with my students. It is necessary that they trust me and believe I want what is best by them. Such a positive relationship leads to greater success for the students academically and a greater sense of self efficacy i.e. a positive impact on their overall wellbeing. I found this to be particularly important on TP with students from a disadvantaged background- some of them were not used to having someone believing in them .

If I am a monist, it is only right that as a teacher I acknowledge the greater scope of learning possible within the PE classroom besides the traditional “physical activity”. The new curriculum guidelines suggest PA is only one of many elements needed to acquire “overall experiences of wellbeing” (NCCA, 2015) and i support this. I could link this to the new phenomenom that is Physical literacy (IAMSPORTTICUS, 2015) an umbrella term that seems to encompass a holistic approach to PE. Moving forward, I do believe this to be an area I would like to explore more in my teaching.

Due to my holistic views, I believe that I tend to gravitate towards learning outcomes that are based around my students achieving pleasure (Dismore, 2009). I want my students to enjoy their learning. This stems from my belief that if someone enjoys an activity they are more likely to willingly participate. I want learning to be fun.

Willingness to participate also comes from the opportunity to create meaningful (Carlson, 1995) learning experiences which I value greatly in my classroom. To me, a meaningful learning experience is one in which a student can relate to what they are doing and draw personal meaning from it. While on TP, I used the TPSR model (Jones, 2012) and activities such as goal setting, reflections and projects/research all of which were activities that allowed students to create and draw meaning from their education through the medium of taking responsibility.

critical thinkingI also believe greatly in student autonomy. Choice (Lujan and DiCarlo, 2017) allows students to develop “positive behaviours” around making choices that can be applied outside of the classroom. As students must think before they make a choice, I am also encouraging critical thinking.  I believe we need more critical thinkers in todays world. Critical thinkers are agents of change. The introduction of key skills (NCCA, 2015), statements of learning and 8 principles of learning all encourage life skills such as the mentioned critical thinking.

Lets be realistic, this is a topic I could talk about forever but I hope this blog gives a snapshot of the teacher I am becoming. Is it too ambitious to expect so much from myself or my students? Who knows! However, I will continue to strive for nothing less. After all, do our students not deserve such a well rounded education?

Reference list:

Carlson, T. (1995). We Hate Gym: Student Alienation from Physical Education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 14(4), pp.467-477.

Curriculumonline.ie. (2009). Senior Cycle Key Skills Framework. [online] Available at: https://www.curriculumonline.ie/getmedia/161b0ee4-706c-4a7a-9f5e-7c95669c629f/KS_Framework.pdf [Accessed 13 Feb. 2019].

Dismore, H. and Bailey, R. (2011). Fun and enjoyment in physical education: young people’s attitudes. Research Papers in Education, 26(4), pp.499-516.

Drowningintheshallow. (2015). Physical Literacy: The Philosophy. [online] Available at: https://drowningintheshallow.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/unpacking-the-philosophy-behind-physical-literacy/ [Accessed 13 Feb. 2019].

Green, K. (1998). Philosophies, Ideologies and the Practice of Physical Education. Sport, Education and Society, 3(2), pp.125-143.

Jones, R. (2012). Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility through Physical Activity. Active and Healthy, 19(3/4).

Lujan, H. and DiCarlo, S. (2017). A personal connection: Promoting positive attitudes towards teaching and learning. Anatomical Sciences Education, 10(5), pp.503-507.

Ncca.ie. (2016). Junior Cycle Wellbeing Guidelines. [online] Available at: https://www.ncca.ie/media/2487/wellbeingguidelines_forjunior_cycle.pdf [Accessed 13 Feb. 2019].

NCCA. (2015). Framework for Junior Cycle | NCCA. [online] Available at: https://www.ncca.ie/en/junior-cycle/framework-for-junior-cycle#panel4 [Accessed 13 Feb. 2019].

Tannehill, D. (2014). My Journey to Becoming a Physical Education Teacher. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 21(1).








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