Friday, January 13, 2023
The past 10 years, I have been a special education teacher in public schools. This school year I am happy to have the opportunity to be teaching Physical Education as well. My goal was to design a curriculum that was fitness based, opposed to the now common games based model used in most schools around the country. From what I have observed, Physical Education has become a form of supervised recess. During sport games, there are a few very athletic students who dominate, while the rest sheepishly stand around. I began to research to see what other educators were doing that resonated with my vision of what physical education should or could be. I was pleasantly surprised to find a rich history of teaching physical literacy and foundational movements designed to set students up for a lifetime of fitness. The problem is, most of the methods were halted in public schools around the 1970s. The “golden age” of physical education is considered between 1885 and 1920. During this time learning foundational movement concepts were emphasized, along with Restorative Arts. Restorative Arts focused on posture, structure, safety, and orthopedic gymnastics. They knew that loading the body with heavy weights or moving fast during sports was not efficient and would lead to injury. My starting point for creating a Physical Education curriculum was Georges Hebert’s natural method. I came across his teaching philosophy during my years studying Exercise Science at Virginia Commonwealth University. His philosophy was “Be strong to be useful.” Exercise movements involve: Walking, running, jumping, quadrupedal movement, climbing, equilibrium (balancing), throwing, lifting, defending and swimming.