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What is Physical Education?

Physical Education (PE) is a part of school life all around the world. From my experience of teaching PE in the UK, it seems that the focus and objectives of the subject are constantly evolving. Is PE primarily focused on teaching skills, teaching concepts through physical means, building physical confidence, or the development of valuable life skills such as leadership and communication? Aside from examination courses, there is no clear direction.

The wide range of goals for Physical Educators leads me to question ‘What is Physical Education?’ In my opinion, PE has the potential to encompass all of the aforementioned and more, and it should. PE is a unique subject area where students are given the opportunity to reap the rewards of physical activity. The direction of a PE curriculum and the goals should be adjusted to suit the needs of the students. Whether PE is developing specific skill-sets for students that are keen to participate in competitive sport, or challenging young people to work together in team-building activities and problem solving, PE is extremely valuable.

From my experiences so far, I have found that PE teachers often have very different ideas as to what the main purpose of the subject is. However, I have found that the vast majority of PE teachers can agree that the health benefits of physical activity are the number one priority. Aside from the health benefits and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, PE pedagogy is widely varied.

Below is my answer to the question, ‘What is Physical Education’. The promotion of health being the main priority- with a balance of skill and social development which can be seen as a continuum. Physical educators will place themselves on this continuum based on their own pedagogy and the identified needs of the particular students.

Promotion of Health

Skill development Social Development

Educators, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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