A philosophical conceptual analysis of education, physical education and teaching
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The absence of thorough philosophical thinking applied to the role and nature of physical education leads to deficiencies in teacher training, teacher recruitment, professional development and the status of the profession (Green, 2000). The aim of this paper is twofold: to further understand physical education and the moral nature of teaching. In this paper I argue that we must re-orientate physical education from a focus on technical skills to an emphasis on the moral nature and role of the profession. Three concepts will be the focus of this dissertation. Education, as a broad and contested concept is first discussed. It is argued that Peters’ (1966) groundwork articulates clear criteria for what constitutes an activity being called ‘education’ but little else. Therefore, drawing on the work of Ryle (1949) to reject a traditional dualistic epistemology and Dewey (1966) and Friere (1980) to emphasise the value of experiential education, a foundation can be laid to discuss physical education and the moral nature of teaching. The concept of physical education will be discussed with a focus on epistemological and axiological issues. Through this discussion, it will be shown that physical education is concerned primarily with practical knowledge and the development of the physical literacy of students. Educational subjects do not inherently have moral significance, but instead, the moral significance of education is embodied within teaching. In the final conceptual discussion, we see that current views on teaching fail to appreciate the moral nature of the activity and instead adopt an instrumentalist approach. Through an understanding of practical wisdom or phronesis, it is argued that we can gain greater clarity of an approach to physical education teaching.
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