Physical Education – A History of Violence

Archive hour. Radio 4 Saturday 8.00 – 9.00 p.m. February 9th 2019


This is a fantastic radio programme outlining the past and present nature of physical education. There were a range of speakers on the programme including Dr Margaret Whitehead, Dr David Kirk, Jo Brand and many others.

Podcast Themes

The podcast covered a range of themes including:

  • The influence of the military on PE teaching
  • The historical PE culture that potentially perpetuated violence and humiliation in PE
  • The power of Public Schools and their influence on physical education
  • The expectation that PE will solve the ills of a society
  • The persistent requirement to concentrate on competitive team games
  • The scant esteem in which PE teachers have been held
  • The very different backgrounds of male and female PE teachers, not least in relationship to training and to significant influences. (E.g. Laban movement focus vs Sport techniques focus)
  • The way PE has been represented in literature, films and TV over the years
  • The reasons why so many people do not continue with physical activity when they leave school
  • The urgent need for the profession to re-present its image
  • The equally urgent need to explain physical literacy to as many people as possible.


This is a must listen for anyone interested in physical education. It can be used as a perfect resource for a flipped classroom approach or homework task for anyone studying the history of physical education. It is a thoroughly enjoyable programme it was great hearing the authentic PE teacher voices from a time gone by. It highlights just how much physical education has changed but also how there are still many challenges ahead for PE.

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