Building a Curriculum of Community in Physical Education Using a Gandhian Framework

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  • Physical education (PE) spaces can marginalize students, particularly low-skilled or female students, and reinforce gender stereotypes. While there has been a recent movement toward teaching games for understanding (TGFU) and physical literacy development in PE, there are still many physical educators who are using a traditional model of PE that can promote verbal, physical, or structural violence. The purpose of PE is to help students to develop habits that allow them to be active for life and intrinsically enjoy physical activity. There are many reasons why students may avoid participating in activities in PE. Students who feel isolated from their peers (culturally, socially, or because of their gender or skill level) or sense a lack of meaning in the activities face a considerable barrier to experiencing joyful movement in PE. Women in particular have been often marginalized in PE spaces and it is common to see female students hesitating to participate in PE, feeling self-conscious during the activity, or avoiding the activities altogether. A rethinking of the ways that we develop lifelong movers who are caring and compassionate to themselves, their peers, and their teachers is needed. By integrating a PE program with character education and activities that build physical literacy, students will feel more engaged, connected, and confident during PE classes. This unit plan will help teachers begin to develop a curriculum of community using a Gandhian framework to instruct and assess their PE classes. The framework incorporates two fundamental Gandhian principles throughout the activities and assessments: ahimsa (non-violence) and sarvodaya (uplift of all). In order to reduce violence in a PE space, the assessment and planning of activities must honour student voice and experience. To ensure that students continually strive to uplift themselves and develop strong relationships, competition that pits one student against another is minimized. The quality and intensity of the activities that could fit into this framework are excellent and varied to provide teachers with the flexibility to adapt the unit to their students. The purpose of the unit is to create students who are physically active for life, who can develop a confidence and competence in a variety of environments, and who can become more compassionate toward themselves and their classmates.

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    Learning Object
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International