ACHPER responds to Olympic fallout
14th Aug 12
Please find below a summary of the interview by Lyndall Curtis, Capital Hill Program ABC 24 TV News with Jeffrey Emmel, ACHPER National Executive Director on Friday August 10 2012.
Emmel argued that it was important to put some of the polarised and confusing arguments as to why our Olympians haven’t lived up to expectations into some perspective. He noted that John Coates Chairman of the AOC was clearly concerned about the medal count and his comments that we need to do more in our primary schools to produce Olympians could be interpreted as blaming teachers for providing inadequate sports programs. What we should be doing is putting our efforts into supporting teachers and schools to strengthen H&PE from which will flow increased opportunities for students to follow pathways to participation and sporting excellence, if they choose. We all want quality teaching and coaching for our children and this should be invested in. The new Australian Curriculum:H&PE will recognise the link between H&PE and Sport.
In saying that, we should not be pressuring our primary schools to produce our next successful Olympians and we should not confuse the purpose of physical education, which should provide students with skills and a love of movement as part of active and healthy living, with sport, which evolves from this process. Young children learning to move with confidence is the key to the process through development of fundamental movement skills leading to an understanding of the playing of games and individual pursuits. He commented also that movement was increasingly being used by classroom teachers to teach other subjects such as the Arts, another area where Australia has a proud tradition.
Emmel said that a strong base of participation through school and community sport opportunities could be balanced with the pursuit of excellence. We can have a strong base to the pyramid and support for excellence at the same time.
He noted that in the UK the debate is already politicised around who has created the legacy of success of Great Britain in these Games and whether it can be built on. We are so fortunate in this country and we should never take for granted the physical, mental and social health benefits that people of all ages can gain through participation whatever the level.
It was of interest that when Olympians returned to their schools they often acknowledged the start they got from their PE experience and the advice and mentoring they received from their classroom and PE teachers as well as their school coach.
Emmel praised the way that the Australian Sports Commission had been exploring ways to bring sport and education closer together through developing a national sport and education strategy that recognised the centrality of Health and Physical Education. The perfect model is one where schools have strong links to community clubs and support from National Sporting Organisations.
He said that sport itself provided an important learning context for students to analyse of their own performance as well as deal with values related to concepts of fair play, ethical behaviour and respect for opponents and he expected the Australian Curriculum:H&PE to embrace these concepts.
Click here to view the interview (Jeff appears from the 17 minute mark).
Jeff's comments also featured in an article in the Herald Sun. Click here to read the story.
ACHPER National's Vice President, Dr Graham Dodd, also commented on the issue on ABC Canberra. Read the story and hear the audio here.