Worries 6 and PE

It is all beginning to seem like a bad dream to me. I have spent all my ‘working’ life building on the beliefs and ideas that can be summarised by the notion of the importance of the individual in a group setting and that life/work balance should have the emphasis on ‘life’. Mr Gove’s thrust seems to me to be against my beliefs. The rhetoric is there perhaps but the substructure for it does not hold up.

Friend Tricia Neal, this morning, knowing the way I feel about these things, directed me towards an article by Independent Thinking’s founder, Ian Gilbert. He analyses the ‘White Paper’ and comes up with truisms that resonate with me …. such as:

  • That there is a direct correlation between a nation’s educational scores in the worldwide league table and how good a government looks at any given time
  • That the ability to marshal troops, load a machine gun or do thirty one-handed press-ups in a minute does not automatically mean you will have great discipline skills when it comes to a group of rowdy 14 year olds
  • That there are many ways of addressing behaviour in the classroom that are not linked to threats or force or coercive control
  • That there is outstanding work going on in a school that is not directly linked to memorising the kings and queens of England
I am I the only one who thinks that the ‘freeing up of schools’ looks like centralised decentralisation?

And now to PE … In Victorian times (or even when I started primary school) Drill was in vogue …

As well as arithmetic and the other usual subjects, many Victorian schools were also keen on teaching “drill”, with the children marching and doing exercises all together. These lessons were like an early kind of PE to keep the ‘scholars’ fit, but they were also found to be useful for producing better discipline.

The example below is from the official Log Book of Cathedine School in 1888…

“On Friday afternoon from 4 to 4.30, Sergeant D.Phillips gave all the bigger boys a Lesson in Military Drill”.

In many schools drill was for everyone, not just the older boys. For much of the Victorian period “Empire Day” in May was an important occasion for school children to try out their parading and marching skills. This usually included patriotic songs and saluting the British flag !

Attribution: The example above is taken from a site which looks at the history of Powys see more here

This appears to combine many aspects of Mr Gove’s policy … doing exercise, keeping fit, discipline and incorporating someone from the armed forces.
Today on the BBC news I watched a group explaining ‘Five-in-five’ … five different keep fit exercises for five minutes … the children filmed enjoyed it (or so it seemed) standing in their rows, in their matching PE kit, doing 21C drill. I can see that young people exercising is a great thing and I think we should be spending time in childhood letting children exercise rather than designing things for them. Children will naturally run around and play given the opportunity. We have closeted them to much .. space, freedom and perhaps a little boredom (I will not define this) rather than another ‘scheme’ to solve it all would be best.
I must say the whole think about exercise that is synchronised reminds me of the nationalistic opening ceremonies of sports events !

Attribution: Original image: ‘3D Character and Question Markhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/40780016@N02/3914729343

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PS:  From the Guardian: Teachers launch broadside over death knell for the £162m School Sport Partnerships

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