Reference: Valeria Varea, G. González-Calvo & A. García-Monge (2022) Exploring the changes of physical education in the age of Covid-19, Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 27:1, 32-42, DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2020.1861233
The abstract and section headings: The paper explored the impact of COVID on the experiences of 12 preservice physical education teachers in Spain. The Spanish traditions of physical education in are ‘hands on’ and the move to online learning changed that core aspects of the subject. The results showed that the preservice teachers in the study struggled to re-assemble physical education from a physical, close contact, hands on subject to one that saw movement as being disembodied and reliant on digital technology – something that had been avoid in Spain to this date. They, the preservice teachers, felt that COVID produced the affects of precarity, fear and insecurity. Physical education became a subject without physical encounters, and the participants struggled to see their notions of physical education play out in this new world of online physical education. The sub-headings of the paper explored the ways in which they had assembled PE, Re-assembled PE, and the affects of this re-assembling on both their feels of precarity, fear and insecurity and on their pedagogical practice.
Introduction and conclusion: Covid-19 meant innumerable changes in education and a significant shift its protocols. The way to teach and communicate transformed overnight. As a consequence, the preservice teachers indicated that they struggled to teach physical education. There have been other movements of change in physical education - from drill to gymnastics to sports techniques (Kirk 2010) – and adjustments have been made over time. This was another shift, but in contrast to the others it moved the preservice teachers, overnight almost, from a place of comfort in terms of traditional delivery to a place where close proximity and physical contact were gone. Other researchers have warned of the changes inherent in digital physical education, but Spanish physical education teachers have resisted that shift which, in turn, left these teachers somewhat exposed.
The authors concluded that delivery of physical education had changed away from the social, from physical contact and changed the roles of the teacher. As teachers, they had to reject touch and compassion which prompted feelings of vulnerability and fear. They had to move away from human bodies to non-human bodies and change the way they taught physical education. They reported being nostalgic and wanting to return to the ways things were. Relationships became external and focused on things, objects, and interactions. New forces came into play with regulations, people and schools having an impact in physical education in ways they didn’t have before. In many cases these teachers struggled to imagine this new iteration of physical education. On the flip side the students gained opportunities to explore new movement cultures on their own as part of physical education. This was, perhaps, a form of radical reform, but time will tell if this remains a thing or if physical education will return to the traditional ways teaching.
Tables and diagrams: There were no tables and diagrams.
The point of the paper: The paper was published during the pandemic and served to highlight the impact Covid-19 was having on aspiring teachers. As a teacher educator I experienced, first hand, the shift to online learning but at least we had somewhat prepared our students for using digital technology. That doesn’t appear to have been the case here. The culture of touch and the hands-on nature of physical education in Spain was changed overnight and this paper plays an important role in making the challenges of that transition clear.
The main arguments: The main argument is that Covid-19 had a big impact on physical education and the next generation of teachers. The physical education that they had experienced as pupils and which, I assume, drew them to the subject was gone. The physicality of the subject and the culture of touch in Spain was ripped away and new imaginings of physical education had to take place overnight. This challenged the very ‘soul’ of the subject and created fear and a sense of precarity and vulnerability in this preservice teachers.
The importance of this paper: Understanding the impact of Covid-19 is important but to me the importance comes in the recognition that we need to prepare teachers for a future that may not exist and allow children to enjoy new expressions of physical education. In re-imagining Physical education, the young people were more engaged, but I am worried that this will be lost in a drive to return to the traditions of the subject.
The paper’s contribution to my knowledge: It shows that the current incarnation of physical education is vulnerable to a change in circumstances. Physical education should be receptive to the lesson learned during the pandemic and be prepared to continue to reimagine itself.
Summary of the paper in one or two sentences: The Covid-19 pandemic change physical education overnight and pre-service teachers were required to change their entire practice and reimagine their teaching and interactions with young people. This led to feelings of precarity, fear and vulnerability but also led to some positive changes that shouldn’t be lost.
To the Authors: I would welcome a response to this blog. If you wish to write a response to be published on PEPRN, please email me – A.J.B.Casey@lboro.ac.uk with the final text.
About the Twenty 20 Vision Blog: For many years I wrote a weekly blog. In fact, between 2011 and 2021 I accumulated a catalogue of more than 450 blogs. But then I hit a wall. I simply ran out of energy and time. Consequently, 2022 wasn’t a great year for PEPRN. Following a modernization of the blog by Philte (thanks), and recognising my enduring desire that this break be a blip and not an end, I’m back with a new format and renewed ambition.
During 2022 I acknowledged that I needed to run PEPRN differently and over time the idea of a “Twenty 20 vision” blog emerged. This was, in part, in tribute to T20 cricket (which I love) and 20/20 vision (which I used to have) and in part due to the recognition that PEPRN needed to be easier to write and therefore sustain.
The idea, therefore, is for me to read a paper in no more than twenty minutes using an approach I’ve often recommended to my students but never actually done myself. For each paper I will do a shallow dive, reading only (a) the abstract and section headings, (b) the introduction and conclusion, and (c) the tables and diagrams. All other writing will be ignored. With this information to hand, I will then write the blog in no more than 20 minutes (thus twenty 20) using the eight headers above. Whatever emerges will then be published (after a little editing because I make a lot of grammatical errors typing that fast). The aim is to make paper reading and blog writing manageable once again whilst maintaining the integrity and usefulness of PEPRN. I hope I have achieved this, but feedback is welcomed and invited. Please let me know how I can get better at this and how the blog can better serve the community.