No PE degree? Foundational knowledge to support generalist teachers of physical education

Chunlei Lu, Jenna Lorusso


While generalist teachers of physical education typically receive preparation in the curriculum and pedagogy of physical education in their teacher education programs, they do not typically receive instruction on the disciplinary foundations of physical education as specialist teachers do; that is, the biological, physiological, and developmental factors of human movement. Such foundational knowledge is critical for teachers of physical education to understand the physical characteristics of the children and adolescents in their gymnasium/classroom and to implement the curriculum and pedagogy of physical education into practice in an effective and appropriate way. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to provide generalist teachers who teach physical education with a synthesis of the disciplinary foundations of physical education, specifically key information regarding children’s and adolescents’ (ages 7-18): (a) physical growth and development; (b) movement skills; and (c) physical fitness. The information presented in this synthesis is based on a systematic examination of reference materials on the physical and movement development of school-age children (chosen in consultation with 10 academic researchers); information accessible online via the websites of relevant public organizations (e.g., Physical and Health Education Canada); as well as the authors’ teaching experiences and expertise as specialist physical educators, scholars of physical education, and instructors of physical education teacher education. This paper is intended to offer a relevant, simplified, and easy-to-understand reference guide to help deepen generalist teachers’ understanding of the learners in their gymnasium/classroom and ultimately enhance their teaching of physical education so as to advance their students’ development of physical literacy and healthy active lifestyles.

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