Physical education in contemporary Ireland: a case study of curriculum, continuity and change

2018-11-21T12:53:06Z (GMT) by Joanne A.D. Moles
This study was undertaken in part as a response to proposed changes in the curriculum and teaching of Physical Education in Irish post-primary schools. I have been involved in Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) for almost thirty years, almost entirely in Ireland, and I have a strong commitment to the promotion of child-centred Physical Education which I believe may be threatened by the proposed changes. My concerns are evident within this study which focuses on three Physical Education teachers in contemporary Ireland over a period of approximately three years during which three Draft New Syllabuses for Physical Education were written by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. These teachers share concerns and values regarding the teaching of Physical Education which broadly concur with my espoused ideology. Each is aware of their preferred pedagogical practices and is articulate in their defence of them. Within this study, the professional practices of these teachers are examined in the context of societal changes and the proposed curriculum changes in Physical Education evidenced in the new syllabuses. Inspiration is drawn from Basil Bernstein's work which Sadovnik (1995, p. 7) claims 'promised to connect the societal, institutional, interactional and intrapsychic levels of sociological analysis'. This study accepts Bernstein's analysis which provides a systematic structural theory allowing micro and macro aspects of the education system to be inter-related.