Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

The Status of Physical Education and Its Relation to Attitudes towards the Teaching of the Subject in Masvingo Urban Primary Schools

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies

The Status of Physical Education and Its Relation to Attitudes towards the Teaching of the Subject in Masvingo Urban Primary Schools

Article excerpt

Abstract

The study aimed to determine the status of Physical Education and its relation to the teaching of the subject in Masvingo urban primary schools. The study adopted the descriptive survey design in which a questionnaire and the structured interview were used as data collection instruments. Five degreed primary school Heads and thirty teachers were purposively sampled from a population of three hundred and one teachers (301) and twelve Heads from twelve Masvingo urban primary schools respectively. The study established that Physical Education enjoyed varied statuses from one school to another. At some schools it enjoyed a low status whilst at a few schools it enjoyed a high status. Overall, Physical Education enjoyed a low status in the urban primary schools. Owing to the low status, teachers had generally negative attitudes towards the teaching of the subject though a few had positive attitudes towards it. The findings call for, among other things the desirability of teaching Physical Education seriously as an important subject on the curriculum. The research is significant in that it sensitizes teachers, school administrators and curriculum developers on challenges posed by Physical Education in the primary school system. In academia, it stimulates debate which may lead researchers to enquire into why Physical Education is neglected as a subject in the primary school curriculum in Zimbabwe.

Keywords: physical education, curriculum implementation, attitudes, status, teaching, physical education goals.

INTRODUCTION

Before and immediately after independence in 1980, Physical Education as a subject in the Zimbabwean primary school was marginalised and for that reason it was not taken seriously by teachers (Musangeya, Kuparara, Tanyongana and Mumvuri, 2000). Physical Education is a spin-off from Physical Training after the Second World War (1939-1945). Physical Training was teacher-centred and had military characteristics, the emphasis being on developing physical qualities such as strength, agility, speed and other attributes which characterise a physically trained individual. Evidently, Physical Training was teacher-driven and authoritative thereby devaluing thinking on the part of the learner.

After independence in 1980, Physical Training was rechristened Physical Education in Zimbabwean primary schools and thus ushered in a paradigm shift. The National Curriculum Policy initiated by the Curriculum Development Unit came up with one of the major goals for teaching Physical Education which was to promote and develop a healthy lifestyle through Physical Education, sport and life skills education. This is closely linked to the goal of national pride and unity espoused by government then. Mandaza (1986) contends that the government's aim was to design a curriculum which incorporated a socialist ideology, the policy of reconciliation, egalitarianism and democracy. In this regard, the first national curriculum came out in 1984 and turned the Physical Education syllabus from autocratic to democratic approaches of teaching which placed the child at the centre of the learning process.

To date, the teaching of Physical Education at primary school level in Zimbabwe is meant to develop the body, mind and soul in the context of holistic education (Nixon and Jewett, 1980). As such, the status of Physical Education has been raised in theory since it now caters for the development of the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of the learner (Pangrazi and Dauer, 1995). In view of this, Physical Education is now activity-led and forms the basis of children's participation in sport since sport is a by-product of Physical Education [Siedentop, 1990].

To enhance the position of Physical Education at primary school level in Zimbabwe, Secretary's Circular Minute Number 1 of 1993 and Secretary's Circular Minute Number 2 of 1994 and the National Sport and Recreation Policy of 1996 made the teaching of Physical Education compulsory thereby making it enjoy a similar status with other subjects on the curriculum. …

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