Physical Literacy & Teacher Professional Development

Jurbala (2015; p. 380) argued that: “in order for the concept of physical literacy to succeed when other efforts to promote physical activity have largely failed, there must be substance to the claims made by its advocates”.

In order to demonstrate this ‘substance’, physical literacy must be operationalised in research, as well as translated from research into practice: neither of which can be achieved without well-informed, reflective PE teachers. Professional development therefore, is an essential component in both researching and promoting physical literacy.

Potential barriers

Durden-Myers and Keegan (2019) highlight a number of barriers hindering the effective and meaningful implementation of physical literacy to date. First, of these barriers include the limited availability of professional development opportunities that are meaningful and relevant to the individuals, as well as moving beyond the traditional delivery, which is reported to be both ‘inadequate and irrelevant’ (Nieto, 2009). Second resources are needed to support understanding of physical literacy in the early stages and developing teachers’ and other educators’ overall understanding of the physical literacy concept: as both the educator and student will be experiencing a lifelong physical literacy journey.

It could be argued that there are potentially even more barriers to the nurturing physical literacy in practice including the lack of time currently dedicated to physical education on the curriculum, teacher workload and availability for CPD, and the current value and status of physical education in an increasingly competitive curriculum.

Progress to date

However, despite these barriers progress is being made and as physical literacy continues to gain momentum: generating more resources, more frequent (and more informed) professional conversations, and the emergence of  ‘quality’ professional development opportunities. Teachers and other educators continue to hold the key in this transition: particularly if they are given the right environment and opportunities to have ‘critical dialogues’ regarding their pedagogy and everyday practice.

At the heart of this article is the call to action that all and any physical literacy professional development should empower teachers to develop and enhance their teaching practice with a broader focus on the individual rather than the normative expectations, and in promoting engagement in physical activity for life.

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