The contributions and learning outcomes of Physical Education under the New Academic Structure for Senior Secondary Education
The contributions and learning outcomes of Physical Education under the New Academic Structure for Senior Secondary Education
The Education sector takes up the highest share of budgetary allocation in Hong Kong. It accounts for almost one quarter of the total public expenditure in which the secondary education accounts to around one third of the total education expenditure. To date, Hong Kong has been undergoing rapid changes in all areas of education. Fundamentally, the school curriculum reforms calls for the development of a new culture of learning and teaching as well as the strengthening of the subject contents. Many schools in Hong Kong have failed in setting priorities in terms of the subjects that should be taught in the classroom as well as the allocation of time for non academic subjects. Teachers are increasingly concerned with the little attention given to extracurricular activities and personality development ( 2003)
As a former British colony, the education system in Hong Kong is based on the United Kingdom particularly the system employed in England. The system includes a non compulsory three year kindergarten which is followed by a six year primary education. The secondary education features a three year junior secondary education and a non compulsory two year senior secondary education which will lead to the Certificate of Education Examinations and a two year course which also leads to the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations.
Under the new 3+3+4 senior secondary curriculum, there will be a three year junior secondary, a three year senior secondary and a four year undergraduate academic system that will be implemented by the year 2009 onwards( 2007). The change in the curriculum can be considered the most dramatic reform in Hong Kong. It can be categorized into three integrated dimensions: change in the structure of the education system, change in the curriculum and the change in the public examinations.
Such reform has been supported by the new understanding of learning which follows the global understanding that learning is the learner’s construction of knowledge and is then a matter of learning experiences in meaningful activities that fosters values. With this, the subjects are replaced with learning experiences in the eight Key Learning Areas (KLAs). The idea behind this reform is for the students to focus initially on languages and mathematics and then carry out their chosen studies in science or humanities (2006). Physical Education has been included among these key learning areas.
Over the years, the public policy which addresses the development of physical education has been assigned to programmes associated with the opportunities for young people to take part in sport. Every major strategic plan of the government for sport has been emphasized to young people. Generally, sports policies for young people are centered on three areas of activity. First is to strengthen the physical education and sport within schools. Secondly, to create sustainable links between the sports played in the school and those played outside the school or within the community. Lastly, to develop means that will ensure that talented participants can progress in this area (19997). Governments invest in sports not only to assist the development of sport itself but mostly to help improve the quality of life of its citizens.
Features of the Curriculum Design for P.E
Based on the Senior Secondary Curriculum guide, Physical education (PE) is an elective subject leading to the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. It is one of the eight Key Learning Areas (KLAs) included in the curriculum reform. The important components of the PE KLA consist of the ‘education of the physical’ which means helping students to obtain good health, good looking body and good performance in the field of sports as well as the ‘education about the physical’ which means helping the students understand the theoretical aspects.
In order to meet the needs and interest of the students, there are four curricula included in the new curriculum for physical education. These are General PE, PE elective, Liberal Studies: Sports and Health Unit and Career Oriented Studies: Coaching and Sports & Recreation management. All senior secondary students are required to take the General PE while the others are optional (2004).
The General PE is built upon the six strands of PE which includes the development of motor and sport skills, health and fitness, sports related values and attitudes, knowledge and practice of safety, knowledge of movement and aesthetic sensitivity. Students will be encouraged to participate in areas of activities such as athletics, ball games, gymnastics, aquatics, dance, physical fitness and outdoor pursuits. Liberal studies as a core subject in the New Senior Secondary Curriculum will broaden the students’ knowledge and improve their social awareness. Students will be nurtured to become critical, reflective and independent through multi perspective and inquiry approaches. They will become more informed and responsible individuals which is necessary for their development and fulfillment.
On the other hand, Career Oriented Studies: Coaching and Sports & Recreation Management will assist students to build foundation for career development and further studies in other areas. Concerns on the roles of leisure, recreation and sports in the development of healthy and quality lives have been raised over the years. As these areas are rapidly growing, there is the increasing demand for professionals trained in the field such as coach, program organizer, facilities manager and therapists. This elective will help students to decide a career path in the other related fields.
PE elective emphasizes on the connection of theories and practical skills to further develop the interest of students in the area of Sports, PE and recreation. Students under this elective are expected to acquire a deeper understanding of theories and applications in the human movement and health. It is unique among other senior secondary elective subjects as it aims to cultivate a critical mass of individuals. Under this elective, students will have knowledge of PE, sports and recreation that will enable them be critical and reflective of the issues affecting their lives at the personal, community, national and global levels.
As they become physically and mentally healthy, they will be more capable of facing challenges and regulate themselves to adopt a healthy lifestyle and eventually encourage others to follow their ways of living. Aside from this, they are expected to develop moral behaviors in respecting the plurality of cultures in the context of PE, sports and recreation ( 2006).
Physical education can contribute to the physical self, emotional, social and personal self, spiritual and community self. In short, it can contribute to the development of the whole person. It also has the potential to make significant contributions in other areas of the educational development of the individual. Such view is supported by many curriculum documents, physical education texts and current researches ()
Upon the completion of the PE elective, students will obtain a strong knowledge base, desirable attitudes and values and the necessary skills that will make them active and healthy individuals. Additionally, they will develop a foundation for further education in science, humanities and social sciences.
There are four categories of learning outcomes that are identified under the PE Elective
Ø broaden the knowledge base and deepen the understanding of issues relating to body maintenance and self enhancement. Increase the intellectual capacity in integrating physical skills to theoretical learning with the use of physical experiences to strengthen the conceptual understanding and thinking and evaluate the theories relevant in the contexts of PE, sport and recreation
Humanities and Social Science Foundation
Ø connect the principles of PE, sport and recreation to related fields and disciplines and develop awareness on the their links to further education and career paths
Ø develop generic skills specifically communication and critical thinking skills and be able to apply them in real life situations along with their collaborative skills and creativity
Values and Attitudes
Ø develop personal as well as social qualities, pleasing sporting manners, commitment, sense of responsibility and the respect for the different cultures when organizing events involving physical activities both in the school and in the larger community.
Pros and Cons
There has been recent reawakening notion that schools are not solely for educating students and training them for adult life but also to produce rational, effective and socially responsible citizens who can fulfill useful roles in the community. Social and morale responsibility fits very well in the rationale of physical education. Sports, being a microcosm of the society can assist in the inculcation of values. What can be consciously promoted in PE can also be transferred to other areas of the curriculum and in the lives of young people in general. To be part of the sporting community also allows the individuals to acquire a wealth of common experiences that is shared by them wherever they play. There are also political initiatives manifested in physical education. For example, the existence of specialist sports college (2001). Thus, students are not only nurtured physically but are also inculcated with social values as they engage in physical education activities.
Generally, Physical education will equip the students with the knowledge and skills that are necessary to pursue an active and healthy lifestyle. By engaging in the broad range of physical activities, students will develop their interest and the ability to remain physically active. They will be nurtured to become healthy and productive individuals that will lead to the reduction of future medical expenditures for diseases.
The breadth of the P.E curriculum will help students who are particularly interested in PE and sports and establish a solid foundation for further studies and future advancements. The variety and flexibility of the curriculum will enable them to advance smoothly into higher education and possibly to future careers in areas such as human biology, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, PE, sports and recreation. It will contribute to the development of skills as well as positive values specifically sportsmanship and perseverance. All of which are in line with the World Health Organization’s agenda of building a long term capacity for a healthy society (2004). Ultimately, physical education will make significant contribution in the whole development of the person and in the realization of a healthy community.
Undeniably, the success of the new curriculum is dependent on the students and teachers collaborative effort. However, PE teachers in Hong Kong have been historically weak. This may be problem especially since the learning area cannot be redirected to other teachers. In addition to this, teachers are also faced with the problem of compressing the time and the increase in their workload.
Another problem with the physical education curriculum is the issue of equality among students. Issues of class, sexuality, ability and culture have obvious bearings in the ways by which men and women are positioned socially and in status under the context of physical education. Marginalization has been a reality for women as well as to men in physical education. It is something which will be experienced by many individuals in different settings. This is so because people are judged based on the existing and prevailing norms dictated by the dominant groups. As a consequence, some people may be viewed as deficient and are subjected to prejudices in physical education (2002). All too often, judgments are made in connection to a single and stereotypical image of masculinity and femininity that ahs been viewed as the norm. Indeed, individuals must be ensured to have their legitimate place in physical education regardless of their differences.
Implications of the new curriculum
Part of the curriculum reform is the attempt to introduce school-based assessment which is likely to provoke teacher opposition due to the increase in their workload. The reform also compress the time that is used for formal curriculum while creating rooms for different sorts of student activities as part of their wide training (2006).
The implementation of the Physical education Reform poses difficulties in terms of school policies. For most P.E teachers, the P.E assessment is no value in terms of promoting the school. Hence, they are faced with the problem of implementation since they are too preoccupied with school work. The insufficiency in time for teaching P.E and assessment for too many students in the class remains a major barrier. Ultimately, teachers are facing problems which are related to the concept of P.E assessment ()
Until recently, physical education has been characterized with the lack of formal assessment. Assessment has been an integral part of teaching and learning. However, assessments in PE classes are often a problem. for one, teachers are compelled to make their comments under pressure if time and the limitation of space. Oftentimes, comments are short, general or vague such as ‘satisfactory’ which may men that the students is satisfactory or the teacher is not sure who he/she is so it must be satisfactory. PE teachers usually find difficulties in making accurate assessments especially those who had to take a large number of classes and students (1994).
Strengthening Students’ Motivation in Physical Education
Physical education has a clear motivational problem. More often than not, the students’ interest in PE declines as they progress through school. Given this, a successful physical education program can be achieved if the students are motivated to learn the intended objectives. Motivation can be defined as the collection of causes which engages someone in an activity (2004). Among the potential barriers to motivation are the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of the students. A problem arises especially since the motivation varies from one person to another. Therefore, the involvement may be unpleasant for some and the intrinsic motivation to participate is lost. To address this problem, lessons must be designed in accordance to their meaning and significance to the students. Extrinsic motivation is also a potential barrier since students are motivated to engage in the activity to receive rewards (2004).
The practices of the teacher can also be a barrier since they are faced with the immensely difficult task of motivating each individual. To become effective, they must continuously examine their teaching styles and adapt to the changing needs and emends of the students. The attitude of the teacher affects the students and therefore they must improve their credibility and influence through planning, goal setting and exhibiting conduct exemplifying the behavior expected of the students. Teachers must also elicit enthusiasm about physical education. This way they can get the students motivated and active. A variety of teaching strategies can also be used.
The curriculum also plays a crucial part in strengthening the motivation. Students who do not enjoy what they are doing could simply avoid the activity. Physical education can be integrated in a way that students will see the meaning across disciplines. It can be integrated with other key learning areas such as math and physics, science and humanities. The curriculum must also be developmentally appropriate to meet the needs and the interest of the students.
For the physical education to be successful, it is necessary that the barriers to its implementation are overcome. It is important that everyone gets involved in to make the collective effort to break such barriers. However, the teacher holds most of the challenges to break down such barriers. Physical Education teachers must continually advocate the importance of physical education and its lasting effects in the health and well being of the students.
Hong Kong has been reforming its Secondary Education as a response to the need of developing a new culture of learning and teaching and strengthening of the subject contents. Perhaps the most dramatic reform in Hong Kong is the change in its curriculum which encompasses the change in the structure of the education system, change in the curriculum and the change in the public examinations. This kind of reform is in accordance to global understanding that learning is the learner’s construction of knowledge and learning experiences which identified eight Key Learning Areas (KLAs).
Among these key learning areas is Physical Education. Physical education (PE) has become an elective subject in the curriculum leading to the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. The important components of the PE KLA involve educating the students to obtain good health and helping them to gain an understanding of the theoretical aspects of physical education. The inclusion of this elective is aimed at the acquisition of knowledge of PE, sports and recreation that will enable students to be critical of the issues affecting them in the different levels of their daily lives.
As students become physically and mentally healthy, they will be more capable of regulating themselves to adopt a healthy lifestyle and encourage others to follow their ways of living. Moreover, physical education does not only contribute to the physical self but to all aspects which leads to the development of a whole person. With this, the PE curriculum is expected to benefit the students in terms of acquiring a strong knowledge base, desirable attitudes and values and the necessary skills for a healthy living. They will also develop a foundation for further learning in other related areas such as science, humanities and social sciences.
Along with these benefits are the potential barriers and challenges to the implementation and success of the program. Undeniably, the teachers will face greater challenges in terms of assessment and time allocation. The curriculum reform has introduced the infusion of learning areas which increased the workload of teachers and compressed their time. Also more PETE in Hong Kong must be improved since it has been historically weak. Another problem with the physical education curriculum is marginalization among students.
Indeed the status of Physical Education can be improved and the motivation of the students to engage in such activities can be maintained only if these barriers are overcome. Ultimately, the appropriate curriculum and the teachers’ practices will be the crucial factors to maintain the enthusiasm towards physical education until the next few years.
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