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Implementation of School Health Literacy in Australia

The specific resource selected for critical evaluation is the curriculum document“The Shape of the Australian curriculum- Health and Physical Education, Australia, 2012”. The document describes the framework around which the curriculum and the specific syllabus will be designed for the multiple years and age groups starting from foundation year, grades 1-2, grades 3-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-10. This document has defined health and physical education as education and opportunities for students to adopt a lifelong healthy and active living environment (ACA, 2012, p. 6). It describes it as the skills, knowledge and understanding that provide a foundation for students to enhance their own health and wellbeing as well as others in a variety of contexts and situations. It talks about defining health and physical education in two approaches and contexts such as personal, social and community health and movement and associated physical activity as well. It divides the curriculum at the various levels as described above starting from foundation years to grade 10 and specifies the specific learning goals, key areas and skills set to be achieved via teaching in the various age groups (Penny, 2018, p. 107).

The document does not offer any specific description of the teaching strategies or specific approaches that the teachers should apply in the fields and in the classrooms to integrate the two strands of teaching physical education- movement and physical activity; and personal, social and community health. However, the definition and description of the subject leans more towards a holistic approach of teaching involving both physical movement and skill set development and learning the importance and theory behind physical education as well. A more integrated approach is advocated for the same in the document.

The document has been written by a group of policy makers, teachers, educationists and analysts at the central level to decide and shape the future curriculum of physical education and health. This paper has been prepared following analysis of extensive consultation feedback through public consultation and input from an expert advisory group on the draft shape of the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education and decisions taken by the ACARA Board. The document is intended for the teachers, policy makers and educationists in the government and ministry of education who will sit and decide the curriculum for the subject.

In this document, it has been found that it is not an attractive audiovisual document. It does not have any images of the teachers or the students and does not stimulate or promote any kind of imagination amongst the students or teachers regarding the teaching techniques or curriculum as well. There is more mention of students specifically in the document and very little or almost no mention of the teachers in the document.

Even though the document elaborates on the skill and learning aspects of the curriculum explicitly, it does not focus upon the strategies or methodologies to be adopted by the teachers in achieving the said and desired goals. It only describes in detail the various goals and achievements based on the grades of students that they should achieve from this curriculum, but very little or no focus is given to the aspect of how they are to be achieved. More focus should also be given to the integrated approach that is the application of the theoretical knowledge base to the physical skills and movement (Penny, 2018, p. 107). It should also describe how physical education is different from physical activity and physical activity is only a means of achieving physical education and health.

The ideas of physical education and health presented in the document abide by the general idea of combining both the physical aspect and skill set development. It also includes the theory behind the importance of physical education and its impact on health and healthy behaviors (Macdonald, Enright and McCuaig, 2018, p. 203).The ideas mentioned and described in the document discuss the participation and accessibility of students and children in their own process of learning like it should be. However, more reflection should also be done upon the process and procedure of achieving it. More emphasis has been given to the outcome of studying physical education and health education instead of describing ways and methodologies of teaching the curricula to the students (Macdonald, Enright and McCuaig, 2018, p. 205).

Focus on planning specific programs to help achieve the requirements should be a made a part of the document, instead of merely discussing the outcomes. A more specific description of the strengths based approach that can be and should be incorporated by the teachers to teach and incorporate in their classrooms and fields should have been discussed in the document. A more ecological approach on how teachers should create the said “holistic learning experiences” should have been provided in the document, so that a basic blue print strategy can be thought of on how to achieve the said goals (Macdonald, Enright and McCuaig, 2018, p. 205).

The document does provide and demarcate a specific framework for basing the curriculum on, however, it does not demarcate or specify what each member of the committee who is going to draft the curriculum including teachers, educationists, and government officials have to specifically do to achieve this. It also does not mention the way the specified learning experiences can be created. More specifically, it should describe ways and strategies of teaching to help incorporate the curriculum in a better way in the classrooms. For example, drawing from the student’s personal experiences and interests or using stimulus materials to create useful linkages with the world present outside the classroom, providing research opportunities in the field of physical education which will help in development of critical thinking skills in the children and help in development of relation to the real-world scenarios of health, and various other ways like the use of technology, problem-solving, peer learning, simulation and active teaching methods.

The document can be made more graphic and more eye-catching for children by including hand-made drawings by children describing their understanding of physical education in the draft of the curriculum as imagery. It will act as an attention-grabber for the children as well and will promise an improved outcome in terms of promotion of good health and physical activity in the students (Peralta and Rowling, 2018, p. 375). The document can also better explain and incorporate the number and viewpoint of the stakeholders and people responsible for making the holistic curriculum a reality. Incorporation of various teaching modules, teaching strategies and teaching programs for the teachers and educators is also a good idea. A brief mention of the children with any kind of disabilities facing specific issues especially in the context of physical education and health should also be undertaken in order to make the curriculum more inclusive and more abiding to the basic tenets of inclusive education (Macdonald, Enright and McCuaig, 2018, p. 203). A mention of the teaching aides, if any, that will be required for making the teaching more inclusive-in a practical sense can also be pointed out in the document (Peralta and Rowling, 2018, p. 375). The document is a promising document for framing and shaping the physical education and health curriculum for the country. It only requires more visibility and discussion around teaching methodologies to be able to achieve the said learning goals and how to make it more inclusive as well.

Reference for Physical Education and Health

Macdonald, D., Enright, E. and McCuaig, L. 2018. Re-visioning the Australian curriculum for health and physical education. Redesigning Physical Education: An Equity Agenda In Which Every Child Matters, pp.196-209.

Penney, D. 2018. Health and physical education: Transformative potential, propositions and pragmatics.The Australian Curriculum: Promises, Problems and Possibilities,pp. 103-114.

Peralta, L.R. and Rowling, L. 2018. Implementation of school health literacy in Australia: A systematic review. Health Education Journal77(3), pp.363-376.

ACA. (2012) The shape of the Australian curriculum- Health and physical education. Australia : ACA

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