I had the opportunity to teach children at primary, middle and secondary school. My subject is PE general. I can say that every day brings new challenges and experiences. It is up to the teacher to make the new experiences positive ones.
We have to keep in mind that children are different from adults. They therefore should not be treated like miniature adults as they are still experiencing growth and development, both cognitive and physiological. In fact, we must remember that children don’t breathe as much air during exercise as adults, although their breathing frequency is greater.
Children have a higher heart rate than adults but they have smaller stroke volume. These characteristics must be kept in mind in order not to but children at risk of an injury during exercise. All children are unique and each child brings his different experience to the classroom with him.
Teacher centered or student centered approach?
In traditional teaching the teacher is the centre of all that is happening in the class. The teacher is in total control of the situation and the students intervene in the lesson only when the teacher asks them to do so, with permission. The teacher has complete authority in the classroom, she lectures, and students listen. In a student- centred approach the teacher becomes a facilitator and mentor and the students are allowed to have choices. They have the chance to be creative in their work and to communicate with their peers. Through collaboration, the work which needs to be done becomes easier for the students. The most important thing is that the teacher shows that she cares for the students. This teaching method will inspire the students to work harder and achieve their goals. It empowers the students to have a voice and to use critical thinking to solve any problems that they might encounter.
Constructivism believes in the personal construction of meaning by the learner through experience so that the learner constructs his own knowledge. (Elliot et al. 2000). Students are engaged in their learning process by constructing knowledge through their own experiences. They are involved in problem based learning to find solutions to difficulties that they encounter. For example, in a coordination PE lesson using tennis skills, the students are asked to toss and catch a tennis ball. Students who cannot control the ball will be asked to find solutions to improve their technique. They will come up with answers, such as tossing the ball a bit lower and using both hands to catch the ball. Constructivism’s central idea is that human learning is constructed, and that learners build new knowledge upon the foundation of previous learning. The example of toss and catch drill illustrates that students are scaffolding ways and means of how to master the task. Once they are successful at catching the ball by using both hands, they will then be asked to first catch the ball with the dominant hand and then with the non-dominant hand. We have to understand that learning is an active and not a passive process and constitutes sharing and negotiating socially constituted knowledge. Teaching will become very interesting because each learner has different subjective interpretations of the lesson, based on their existing knowledge and values. One of the strengths of constructivism is that students become owners of their learning process while one of the limitations is that it lacks structure and some students would require a structured learning environment to reach their potential. The lessons are constructed according to the students’ needs and in a way which will reach all students. With differentiation I can reach the high achiever, the low achievers and also students with special needs.
Elliott, S.N., Kratochwill, T.R., Littlefield Cook, J. & Travers, J. 2000, Educational psychology: Effective teaching, effective learning (3rd ed.), McGraw-Hill College, Boston.
Written By Mark Abela