Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

A Descriptive Profile of Physical Education Teachers and Programs in Atlantic Canada/profil Descriptif Des Enseignants et Programmes En ÉDucation Physique Dans Les Provinces Maritimes Au Canada

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

A Descriptive Profile of Physical Education Teachers and Programs in Atlantic Canada/profil Descriptif Des Enseignants et Programmes En ÉDucation Physique Dans Les Provinces Maritimes Au Canada

Article excerpt

Since 2005, the annual Active Healthy Kids Canada (AHKC) report card has provided evidence-informed assessments of physical activity and physical education opportunities afforded to children and youth in Canada. A striking feature of the reports has been the overwhelming and consistently negative evaluations of child and youth activity levels (in terms of moderateto- vigorous physical activity). Assessments related to the quality of school-based physical education have been somewhat more positive, though they too have highlighted a less than ideal scenario. For example, in response to a slightly improved evaluation of physical education in 2012 (from a C- to a C), the AHKC (2012) report stated:

This grade reflects a slight improvement in the quantity and quality of PE; however, generally speaking, less than half of elementary and middle schools in Canada report that their students are getting at least 150 minutes of PE per week as recommended by Physical and Health Education Canada [PHE Canada]. (p. 37)

In addition to addressing broad issues that span the country, the report cards have also provided important provincial and regional information that highlights contextual differences related to physical activity and physical education opportunities and experiences. For example, the 2012 report card indicated that of the five provinces whose children and youth achieved below the national average of steps taken daily (11,607 steps), the four lowest were in Atlantic Canada. A similar pattern is evident with respect to school-based physical education, which the AHKC report evaluates primarily according to instructional time. All four Atlantic provinces have physical education instructional time guidelines / requirements calling for 75-100 minutes per week for lower elementary school students (grades K-3), roughly equivalent to 5-7% of total school instructional time (AHKC, 2011). These instructional time guidelines are the lowest in the entire country. In comparison, the four Western provinces and three territories call for approximately 150 minutes per week, which is roughly equivalent to 10% of total school instructional time (AHKC, 2011). If physical education is a vehicle that can provide children and youth with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to lead healthy lifestyles, these trends (low number of daily steps taken and low PE time) are certainly cause for alarm. This is perhaps emphasized even more when the general health of Atlantic Canadians is compared to the rest of the country. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation (2010) and Statistics Canada (2013a), rates for overweight / obesity, diabetes, cancer, stroke, and heart attacks within the four Atlantic provinces are well above the national average. Given these observations, we were interested in finding out what is occurring in physical education in schools in the Atlantic provinces.

Notwithstanding the potential of daily physical education to have a positive impact upon children and youth, it must be clearly stated and understood that the goals of school physical education should be seen as being far broader than providing a means to address the obesity "epidemic" or inactivity crisis, or curing the health ills of children and youth in Canada. We do, however, believe that physical education can contribute to students' adoption of a healthy lifestyle, which can, in turn, impact upon their physical, social, and emotional health well beyond graduation. As such, the potential positive impact that physical education can have on students' future wellbeing is at least partially dependent upon a high level of quality existing in the physical education programs that are in place.

According to PHE Canada (2013), a quality physical education program is "well-planned, taught by qualified and enthusiastic professionals, and offers a variety of learning opportunities to all students on a daily basis throughout the entire school year" (para. 1). To this we would also add that a quality program provides students with opportunities to explore subject matter in some degree of depth, in a positive and supportive environment, and in ways that enhance students' feelings of self-esteem. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.