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Aligning Critical Physical Education Teacher Education and Models-Based Practice

Glenn Fyall, Michael W. Metzler


In 1999, the New Zealand government released a new Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum that reflected a fundamental shift from the traditional and dominant skill mastery approach. The “new” HPE curriculum was based on humanistic principles and supported by constructivist notions of teaching and learning, within a critical pedagogy. Since this time, and a subsequent curriculum revision in 2007, the HPE curriculum writers have suggested that physical education (PE) teachers and physical education teacher education (PETE) students in New Zealand have struggled to understand the epistemological complexities and pedagogical implications of critical pedagogy in their practice. Therefore, this paper highlights the findings of a study that explored a New Zealand PETE program, in light of HPE within the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). Additionally, and in light of the findings, the authors consider an examination of Kirk’s (2013) concept of models-based practice as it could apply to the preparation and professional development of physical education teachers in New Zealand. The case study included nine volunteer participants, from a cohort of 32 students, who were nearing graduation from a critically oriented PETE program in New Zealand. Semistructured interviews were deployed and analyzed and reoccurring themes central to the purpose of the study identified and explored. The participants viewed movement contexts as being pivotal for learning in physical education and that the NZC had multiple educational aims and purposes. Participants also believed that PE teachers were required to move beyond direct instruction and implement a variety of teaching styles to achieve these multiple aims. However, the participants also shared misunderstandings and paradigmatic uncertainty around the critical and humanistic underpinnings of the NZC and failed to demonstrate an understanding of how this is enacted through critical pedagogy. The implications of this theory to practice nexus are further discussed in light of recent research debate around models-based practice.

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Models based practice; physical education teacher education; critical pedagogy

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