The Nature of Good Teaching

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There continues to be ongoing debate about the qualities of a good physical education teacher. For a long time it was considered that keeping the students "busy, happy, good" was an end in itself. This emphasis affords little attention to what the students actually learn in physical education classes.

Physical Education in our curriculum today has changed as has the way we live our lives, entertain ourselves and technology. Before we look at what is considered today to be qualities of good physical education teaching, we need to look at where the notion of ‘busy, happy, good’ has come from. Richard Tinning, David Kirk and John Evens outline the progression of what has been deemed to be quality physical education in Australian schools over the decades. Their study looks at the methods being used by physical education teachers and what actually happens in the lesson instead of characteristics displayed by teachers.

The notion “busy, happy, good” was suggested to be a measure of quality teaching by Judith Placek in 1983. (Placek, 1983). Prior to Placek’s research one of the most commonly used tools to research the effectiveness of a teacher was the Academic Learning Time (ALT). An adaption of this was used for the research of effective physical education teaching research ALT-PE (Tinning, Kirk &Evans p. 139). This method of research was focussed on monitoring a student’s engagement and successful completion of the task. The research conducted by Judith Placek found that “for most teachers and student teachers the dominant concerns in teaching physical education are to keep the children ‘busy, happy and good’” (Tinning, Kirk &Evans, 1993). “Success, in many cases, is not Sharon or Bob learning to jump shot correctly. Success is related to the immediate, observable happenings in the gym. Are the students participating (busy), enjoying themselves (happy), and doing what the teacher directs (good)? (Placek, 1983, p.54)

When this was written in 1993 one of the main concerns with young people was the amount of time spent watching TV as the main source of their entertainment. Tinning, Kirk and Evans point out that for children to engage in their education they wanted to be entertained or they would disengage. Since the rapid growth of technology our lifestyles have changed and become more demanding. The population of developing countries has become less active leading toward significant health issues that impact the whole community. The World Health Organisation released a Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health in response to the concerns of the changing lifestyles of developed countries in the last 25 years. (WHO, 2012) “Because of these changes in dietary and lifestyle patterns, chronic NCDs ---including obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension and stroke, and some types of cancer --- are becoming increasingly significant causes of disability and premature death in both developing and newly developed countries, placing additional burdens on already overtaxed national health budgets” (WHO 2012).

In 2007-08, one quarter of Australian children (or around 600,000 children aged 5-17 years) were overweight or obese, up four percentage points from 1995. Studies have shown that once children become obese they are more likely to stay obese into adulthood and have an increased risk of developing diseases associated with obesity (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010). The issue today for physical education teachers is still one of engagement and the need for students to have fun however these alone do not fully satisfy the curriculum standards by which we operate. The Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) Health and Physical Education guidelines states; “(schools) provides students with knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to achieve a degree of autonomy in developing and maintaining their physical, mental, social and emotional health” (VELS, 2012)....
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