PEdagogy. Are we getting it right?

Recently I attended a Pedagogy in NQ conference in Dundee, I also presented a workshop, where I was taken aback by some of the wonderful work that some of my colleagues are undertaking. I also had some very interesting and thought provoking discussions with many within the profession. From these conversations and the conference itself I am starting to feel a shift in thinking, a shift in ideas and ideology and more importantly a shift in the right direction. At least in the direction I think physical education should be going.

I’ll come back to the conference. The keynote was delivered by Jonny Penman. I was enthused by his energy and clear love of our subject, like many before him but he backed up his love with good pedagogy and some great questions. Jonny has been looking at problem solving in physical education and his ideas stem from the question ‘how can I make physical education as addictive as computer games’. I’ll ask you to think about how many children you lose the day after the latest new game is released? Jonny has had a varied career and this has shaped his ideas and pedagogy. He ultimately stumbled upon a tactical games approach book which he used to form the basis of his problem solving tasks. The key points that I can take away from Jonnys keynote and workshop was that I personally need to think about how j can make the Experiences & Outcomes and Significant Aspects of Learning work for me, how I can frame lessons and a highlight from his workshop ‘my favourite wrong answer’. I think that last one struck a chord with many of the delegates. Jonny actually celebrates mistakes and finds his favourite one to ask his learners how best to learn from it and ‘fix’ it for themselves. A great example of giving confidence to young people and making mistakes an acceptable part of learning. 

I the. Moved onto delivering my own workshop on experiential learning. I demonstrated how I set tasks allowing for personalisation and choice then use oral questioning to map the assessment of learners. I try my best to keep my learners out of the classroom and in the games hall/gym/field. Feedback initially has been positive but I have also been challenged to think about the verification progress and also how I can transfer spoken answers into written answers for the inevitable N6 exam. I am still on a quest for a paperless classroom, where possible.

My final workshop was a practical example of using the BMT approach at N5. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, especially given my interest in the BMT approach. Through the vehicle of handball we were given BMT tasks before catching or passing the ball. This is a great challenge for me never mind my learners and an approach I am using more and more. What interested me though was how this can be used to help learners identify Factors Impacting on their Performance and level the playing field because all learners will notice the demands of thinking and moving at the same time. A great way to pull out the appropriate factors and features of the factors. 

The overall them of the conference was to identify the need to get the Broad General Education (BGE) right. No small task!! It permeated right throughout the conference and had delegates discussing the ins and outs of their BGE. What I have learned is that our primary colleagues are much better at teaching the Experiences & Outcomes together with the Significant Aspects of Learning (SAoL) when compared with secondary PE staff. How do we improve this? We are looking hard at our cluster approach currently but we have a long way to go before we catch up with them in terms of competency and confidence in using the SAoLs. I for one would like to investigate spending time with my primary colleagues to get a feel for what they do day-to-day and want to make that a key aim for myself for session 15/16.

Are we getting the BGE right? I would answer by simply saying ‘not yet’. We have some way to go but I am committed to the task ahead. There is no mistaking that with be right guidance Physical Education can become one of the most important subjects in the school curriculum. We have the capacity to develop and impact on young people’s emotional, social, mental and physical wellbeing. We need more conferences like today and more people banging the drum in the right direction. I think people would benefit from seeing how others teach their BGE and how best to make a true 3-18 progressive and challenging curriculum, a silver bullet of silver bullets.

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