Living Well: Creating a Long-Term Framework for Sport & Physical Literacy Development – Part Three

In the first two parts of this blog series I shared how my PHE Department worked to define what knowledge, skills and attitudes students should develop through our Physical & Health Education (PHE) program. In Part One I shared how we used the concept of Physical Literacy to shape our curriculum development process and in Part Two, how we broke this enormous concept down into sub-domains. In this blog post I will share the framework we used to provide a holistic approach to physical literacy development. 

Having identified and aligned our sub-domains of physical literacy development, we set about envisioning how we would go about putting this into practice. At the core of our school’s mission and vision is a commitment to experiential learning as a way to integrate the learning of the head, the heart, and the hands – so that children can learn to live well, with others and for others. The school believes community members should be principled in their decision-making and in their actions, in order that they live well with others and for others, and create just communities. They had best be open-minded, since the world is a changing place, and being adaptable requires open-mindedness. They need to be balanced, ensuring  they are looking after their heads, their hearts, and their hands: intellect, emotions, and body…thoughts, words and deeds. (“Mission & Vision – Meadowridge School,” 2019). 

This commitment was grounded in the research of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, a Swiss pedagogue and education reformer, who emphasized that teaching should be a unity of the head, heart and hands, that is, a unity of the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of learning (Senka Gazibara, 2013). Pestalozzi believed that if education developed the powers of ‘Head’, ‘Heart’ and ‘Hands’, this would help create individuals who are capable of knowing what is right and what is wrong and of acting in accordance with this knowledge. Thus, the wellbeing of every individual could be improved and each individual could become a responsible citizen (Senka Gazibara, 2013). 

Knowledge is connected with physical activity and very strong emotions. Experience is always accompanied by certain knowledge and motor activity, and the learning of a psychomotor action is accompanied by pleasant or unpleasant emotions and certain knowledge (Senka Gazibara, 2013). By engaging the whole child in the learning process, “heart and hands, as well as head,” it has been found that children become more involved and enthusiastic about their learning (Easton, 1997). 

When organizing the domains of learning and our identified sub-domains it became apparent that using the concept of the head, the heart and the hands could not only assist students in understanding the holistic nature of physical literacy development, but also align with our school’s mission and vision.  In trying to meet the mission of “Learning to live well, with others and for others, in a just community” (“Mission & Vision – Meadowridge School,” 2019), the ‘Head’ or knowledge would become the learning to live well aspect, the ‘Hands’ would enable students to live well through their skill development, and the ‘Heart’ would impact how students interact “with others, and for others in a just community.” 

Knowing that Quality Physical Education is the planned, progressive, inclusive learning experience that acts as the foundation for a lifelong engagement in physical activity and sport, we were aware that the learning experiences offered to children and young people through this curriculum should be developmentally appropriate to help them acquire the psychomotor skills, cognitive understanding, and social and emotional skills they need to develop their physical literacy and lead a physically active life.

In the Part Four of this blog series I will share how we adapted the Canadian Sport for Life Long-Term Athlete Development model to help us develop a scope and sequence for learning that would allow us to teach our newly developed curriculum. To ensure that you do not miss out on the next part of this series or any of the future posts from iPhys-Ed.com, be sure to subscribe to our mailing list by entering your email address below:

Nathan Horne is a physical educator, currently based in British Columbia, Canada where he works as PHE Department Head at Meadowridge School. Nathan is also the founder of iPhys-Ed.com. Be sure to never miss out on any of iPhys-Ed.com’s future posts by connecting with us via TwitterFacebookYoutube or Instagram. Nathan can be contacted on Twitter @PENathan.

Easton, F. (1997). Educating the Whole Child, “Head, Heart, and Hands”: Learning from the Waldorf Experience. Theory Into Practice, 36(2), 87-94

Mission & Vision – Meadowridge School. (2019). Retrieved November 25, 2019, from https://www.meadowridge.bc.ca/about/mission-vision-history

Senka Gazibara. (2013). “Head, Heart and Hands Learning” – A challenge for contemporary education. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 2013(1), 71-82.

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