The previous blog looked at the idea that we need to stop once in a while least life pass us by. Drawing on work in outdoor education it argued that spiritual wellness is not just the responsibility of faith-type organisation but also of schools. It argued that this is a basic human need and yet it is not something that just happens and it needs to be planned for. Yet this is not a simple matter and through the use and development of a number of interrelated strategies it is possible to start thinking of spiritual wellness as being part of the curriculum. 

This week’s blog revisits a paper from the mid 1980s – one which owes in origins to work done in the late 60s and early 70s – and argues that we need to think about the purpose and process of movement. The simple idea of thinking “why are we moving?” (i.e. to what purpose?) then allows us to think about “how we are moving” (i.e. the process). In this way we don’t move in the same way for every activity but think of how to best achieve our aims. The blog concludes by suggesting that, currently and historically, the process often comes before the purpose but by flipping the equation we might just end up with different results.


Volume 4: The curriculum and the subject matter of physical education


Paper 85:

Jewett, A. E. (1987/2012). Historical background. In D. Kirk (ed.) Physical Education: Volume IV. (pp. 243-260) London: Routledge.


The Paper

This paper formed the introduction to a monograph in the Journal of Teaching in Physical Education about the “Purpose Process Curriculum Framework” or PPCF and served to provide “the historical background for understanding the purposes of individual researchers and for evaluating the significance of their findings.”

More than a quarter of a century later is would be easy to say that the “significance of their findings” have not been great. I had never heard of PPCF and yet, in reading on, it seems that some important ideas were contained within Jewett’s arguments.

The ‘lost’ ideas of the PPCF mean that it is difficult to present this week’s blog in its usual format (i.e. message and then paper). It seemed impossible, as I wrote, to position my ‘take home’ message ahead of my exploration of the paper because I had nothing in your (or my) understanding to build on. In all previous blogs the ideas we have explored have had a foundation in the general understanding of the field. That doesn’t seem to be the case in terms of PPCF and therefore I have flipped my approach and given a detailed exploration of the paper and a short reflection at the end. It is also worth noting that the paper is an introduction and therefore many of the fundamental ideas are further developed in the other papers in the monograph.

That said the PPCF – perhaps unsurprisingly – revolves around the four words in its title Purpose, Process, Curriculum and Framework. Specifically Jewett positioned it as a conceptual framework that – as a model or structure – “attempts to systematically describe the curriculum by identifying and operationally defining the elements and the ways in which they are or may be related to each other.” These elements and ways (what she called ‘major dimensions’) were purpose and process.

Purpose was defined as a human being’s reason for moving – a reason (or purpose) that would change with age. In other words programmes of movement (or the curriculum) needed to take account of the movement purposes of the individual and provide opportunities for all. Jewett argues that people learn to move to achieve their purposes and therefore any physical education curriculum must “include opportunities to acquire the means by which these movement purposes can be fulfilled.” At the heart of PPCF is the idea that movement is personal and while individuals may have similar aims they might seek to meet their purposes in different ways.  Put differently a “purpose” in this context “identifies a unique way of finding or extending personal meaning through movement activities”. 

Once the purpose of movement is ascertained the process (what Jewett positioned as “major types of movement operations”) needed to be considered. When the processes are also considered – not in the single dimension of performance but in the wider dimension of purpose – then the goals of physical education are brought into focus – a different focus perhaps to the games-centred approaches that dominate our field. Indeed Jewett argues that by taking a purpose perspective the selection of ‘curriculum experiences’ changes to focus on “three key purposes or human movement goals”:

a)   To fulfil personal developmental potential

b)   To develop movement skills for adapting to and controlling the physical environment, and

c)   To assist the individual in relating to others.

When these goals are considered then the apparent purpose of physical education changes and becomes “the personal search for meaning by the individual moving in interaction with the environment [and] the basic goals of education are individual development, environmental coping, and social interaction.” This might not seem to be so far away from the ideals we all hold for physical education but I feel that these goals get buried - often out of sight and mind - by the preconceptions and demands of others and the expectations of our collective history.


My ‘take home’ message – the implications of the research on practice

While the PPCF framework has disappeared – and while Jewett’s paper talked more of the history of PPCF – there are some key ideas that emerge from reading this paper. I guess it goes to show that while ideas might get reworked and regurgitated they can endure.

That said, and in exploring my own journey of change, I am often saddened when I am forced to face my own short fallings in my writing. My diaries have been a source of much solace over the years but they also stand in testament to some of the times when I have forgotten my aims and aspirations as a teacher and a teacher educator. It is easy, in the heat of the moment, to forget ourselves and revert to type.

I often think this is the case with newly qualified teachers when they are faced with a classroom full of learners in their early days as teachers. They have so much to deal with that they forget their hopes and do what has been shown to work. Somewhere along the line some of those new teachers also lose the connection between the purpose and process of physical education. I think that the process often takes over and we lose sight of the purpose.

So think about what got you into this in the first place. What is the purpose – as you see it (not how others see it) – of physical education and why are you the best person to make it happen? Once you know this then think of the process. Is it the way you know or another way? Do you do what you are expected to do or what you hope will meet the purposes of the young people you teach? I think that the process often comes before the purpose but by flipping the equation we might just end up with different results.


What’s next? As part of this series of blogs I propose the following as a way of considering the implications of this research on your teaching- Think, Act, Change (or TAC for short).

Think about findings of the paper – do they resonate with you? Use the comment box below to ask a question, seek clarification, may be challenge the findings.

Act on what you’ve read. What do you believe? Is it your responsibility to make changes or is this just something else that I’ve put on your plate? Is there action to take? If so, what might it be?

Change what you do in response to your thoughts and actions? Is this a personal undertaking? If you want to do something or are looking for help then please let the community know about it.

I wouldn’t expect every paper to get beyond the T or even the A of TAC but if one paper resonates enough to get to C then hopefully all this is worthwhile. Good luck.


Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Vicky Goodyear for her work behind the scene as copy editor and Routledge (part of the Taylor and Francis group) for donating a copy of the Physical Education: Major themes in education series. Their respective help certainly forms a vital part of the production of this blog, and in getting out on time and in a semblance of coherence. However it is important to note that any mistakes that remain are mine.