Where Does Physical Education BEGIN?

Nate Babcock
May 8, 2017 · 3 min read
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Where to start with PE?

What should be taught? What should the content be? What should students be “learning?” What should be accomplished? What is it, exactly, that we should be doing? What is worth investing in?

Where should one go for answers to these questions?

I suggest starting here:

  1. How much time do you have?
  2. How many kids do you have?
  3. What is culturally and environmentally relevant in terms of movement?
  4. What resources and constraints do you have?
  5. What resources and constraints do the students (and THAT kid) have when they leave school?
  6. What MIGHT the kids (and THAT kid) need?
  7. What do they (and THAT kid) want now? And in the near future?
  8. What are the students (and THAT kid) willing, able, and eager to do?
  9. What might the local context need, in the moment, that would bring about a better, more inclusive, just, sustainable, generative world?
  10. What does the meso and macro world need, in the moment and future, that would bring about a better, more inclusive, just, sustainable, generative world?

Where do we usually start though?

Some piece of paper somewhere.

A piece of paper, created by well-meaning adults, full of ideas and directives that may or may not be relevant to your context. A piece of paper that often becomes dogma, even law.

And, yes, a piece of paper that gives direction where it is needed, and a vision where one may be absent.

But this piece of paper is not the only place to find the answers to the questions I posed in the beginning. It isn’t even the most important. Fidelity to that piece of paper may be the most important thing for you, as a PE teacher, to keep your job or to remain accepted in the PE community, but it is not the most important in terms of determining what is worth investing in. But, yes, it is a piece to seriously consider and consult.

So when someone says “PE is THIS, and THIS is what you must teach” beware. Nobody can tell you what PE is from over there.

This is what I suggest PE is: It is here, now, me, my kids, the school, the environment, the culture, the past, the future.

It is not reducible to PLAN-TEACH-ASSESS.

Well, it could be, but only if our conceptions of PLAN and TEACH and ASSESS represent an indivisible complex process of seamless, spiraling-rhizomatic-fractal transcending and including….transcending and including….transcending and including….building momentum as it goes, leading to novel modes of being, relating, and becoming.

In other words, start in the middle, where it matters, because ultimately there is no beginning or end….there is only the middle.

‘ A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo….any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be. This is very different from the tree or root, which plots a point, fixes an order. … There are no points or positions in a rhizome, such as those found in a structure, tree, or root. There are only lines. (Deleuze & Guattari: A Thousand Plateaus)

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