Affective Teaching: Psycho-Social Aspects of Physical Education

Article excerpt

When implemented carefully, cooperative activities in physical can convey ideals such as honesty, respect for others' rights and feelings, concern for others, and self-discipline.

To maximize the effectiveness of physical education, it is time for physical educators to focus on a smaller set of goals (Hellison, 1987; Hedlund, 1990) by concentrating on individual and social responsibility in the affective domain. In light of the societal problems today's children face and because of an increasing number of at risk children, a curriculum which stresses moral development, social growth, and emotional stability is important now more than ever.

To assist in the moral development of students is a stated aim of physical education. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) defines a physically educated prison as one who appreciates "the relationships with others that result from participation in physical activity" (NASPE, 1990). The American Academy of Physical Education stresses that physical education is "an specially appropriate place to teach moral education," and urges support for the development of plans for instruction and assessment of appropriate ethical and moral values (Harrison & Blakemore, 1992, p. 186).

Attaining these goals requires true commitment among the physical education community (Hellison, 1990b; Caine & Krebs, 1986). Teaching in the affective domain (especially with respect to moral development) has not been systematically and uniformly addressed, "leaving the potential of physical education... unclear and inconclusive" (Caine & Krebs, 1986). Hellison states that teaching in the affective domain is a "conceptual nightmare." "Does it refer to self-esteem or body image?... Should we teach values, or clarify values, or try to avoid value issues?" (Hellison, 1987, p. 41).

While acknowledging that problems exist in this area, research reflects the contributions physical education has made regarding children's social and emotional growth (Chandler, 1988; Lang & Stinson, 1991). One such contribution is the development of prosocial behaviors. When implemented carefully, cooperative activities in physical education can convey ideals such as honesty, respect for others' rights and feelings, concern for others, and self-discipline (Glakas, 1991). The keys are correct and careful implementation and cooperative activities!

Implementation of Instruction

Physical educators believe that physical education can enhance students' social and emotional growth (Chandler, 1988), an essential factor in children's educational development (Deline, 1991). Why then, do we so often leave these important aspects of education to chance? We rarely implement specific strategies to teach students how to communicate with each other or how to work out and accept compromises (Deline, 1991; Hellison, 1987).

Physical educators must recognize that the reason students do not behave as expected is not because they do not want to, but rather because they have not been taught how (Deline, 1991; Hellison, 1987). Many students have not been exposed to cooperative values in their environments, whether at home or at school, nor have they had cooperative values positively reinforced. Therefore, physical educators should not assume that students automatically possess these values and skills. Instead, physical educators should specifically address cooperative behaviors (Deline, 1991).

Teaching and learning cooperative skills should be approached in the same manner as with any other skill. Physical educators should not expect students who do not understand the concepts of cooperation, compromise and communication to "work out" their disputes. They should: (1) give students enough time to understand and discuss the cooperative value being taught; (2) allow students time to use and practice the value. Finally, with adequate understanding and practice, students will (3) internalize the concept, making it part of their "appropriate behavioral repertoire" (Deline, 1991). …