Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Physical Education (PE) can and should contribute to the development of a more culturally diverse curriculum


Having taught in various schools with differing demographics I noticed that the children were given identical lessons. They had not been varied to meet the needs of the pupils from a cultural perspective. This was an issue when I attended school and I was surprised to see these issues are still apparent in some of today’s school.  If you consider Vygotsky’s theory (1978) and include culture in the classroom which is representative of the learner’s home culture, this will provide meaningful learning as it is relatable. It will allow the learner to be more engaged with the activity and provides inclusion and holistic wellbeing for the learner (Wong et al, 2003). I believe that Physical education (PE) can help breakdown perceived cultural barriers within the curriculum and develop more cultural aware pupils.

Multicultural Education
Multicultural education is an “education that values diversity and includes the perspectives of a variety of cultural groups on a regular basis” (Santrock, 2001, p.171). Developing cultural awareness enables students to become more knowledgeable, understanding and respectful of everyone (Choi & Chepyator-Thompson, 2012). This resonates with my own education values and my belief that education should incorporate every child’s cultural difference when planning and delivering physical education.

Within recent years the population of schools have become more culturally diverse. According to Lievesley, (2010) one fifth of the population will be from an ethnic background.   Therefore, PE teachers need to have the knowledge and understanding of how to meet culturally diverse students’ needs and the multifaceted relationship between culture and learning (Flory & McCaughtry, 2011). This could be achieved by PETE’s teaching pre-service teachers and through training days for in-service teachers.
There are not enough equitable experiences for black, Asian and minority ethnic people (BAME) pupils. This can be put down due the lack of ethnic teachers in the teaching profession (DfE, 2018) and the lack of cultural competency of current white professionals (Harrison, Carson, & Burden, 2010).

Although, I understand the difficulties of creating a more culturally diverse curriculum and more culturally aware staff. I know that PE, can develop more culturally aware pupils. Due to its ability to teach academic and non-academic life-skills.

Contribution to practice and knowledge

  1.        By breaking that boundary of cultural differences can ensure teachers inspire and motivate pupils through the lens of the individual pupil (Choi & Chepyator-Thompson, 2012).
  2.       Culturally diverse curriculum and teaching will result, in children being able to understand, respect and work with people from all backgrounds in PE, across the curriculum and in life (Dowling & Flintoff, 2018)
Counter Arguments
  1. The assumption that disengagement with PE is due to cultural negligence is misplaced. Teachers cannot accurately measure if cultural barriers have been broken down.  Barker et al. (2014) reported that their participants opposed PE on philosophical grounds, disruptions and disengagement due to personal effort.
  2. According to, Kulinna, McCaughtry, Cothran, and Martin (2006), teachers will become overloaded with information on one day course so will not retain the key aspects. If they do, then some may not have the time and support to consolidate their learning. Due to timetabling and pressure of subject’s teachers may not be able to put theory into practice and then reflect upon their practices. 
  3. Some teachers will come from non-diverse backgrounds and will only teach in non-diverse schools so feel that culturally diverse teaching is not relevant to them. Moreover, some teachers feel that an ‘over addressing’ the subject of cultural diversity could prove to be counterproductive (Asare, 2009, p.10).
  4. Initial teacher training organization will state that they do offer training on multiculturalism and explain that education should meet the needs of all pupils. However, they do not make it a compulsory issue in the similar aspect of disability and LGBT.

       I believe that PE can develop cultural awareness in the children that we teach. We can create an environment that teaches teamwork and respect for others.  In my future practice, I will continue to use PE to teach equality, teamwork, fairness and respect. As a teacher I understand that I have a vast amount of learning ahead and it may be difficult on occasions to ensure the cultural needs of each pupil is met.
I may teach in a school that marginalizes diversity and does not consider it to be an issue. Senior management may take offence to it and feel that I am being rude if I approach them (Haque & Elliot n.d.). I will have to reflect on their views and adapt it with my own philosophy.


Asare, Y. (20090 Them and Us. Race Equality Interventions in Predominantly White Schools. Runnymede Trust
Barker, D. M., Barker-Ruchti, N., Gerber, M., Gerlach, E., Sattler, S., & PĆ¼hse, U. (2014). Youths with migration backgrounds and their experiences of physical education: An examination of three cases. Sport, Education and Society, 19(2), 186– 203
Choi, W & Chepyator-Thompson, R. (2012). Multiculturalism in Teaching Physical Education: A Review of U.S. Based Literature.Journal of Research,6, 2
Department for Education (2018). School teacher workforce. Access Online: https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/workforce-and-business/workforce-diversity/school-teacher-workforce/latest [Last Accessed April 19]
Dowling, F. & Flintoff, A. (2018) A whitewashed curriculum? The construction of race in contemporary PE curriculum policy, Sport, Education and Society, 23:1, 1-13
Flory, S.B., & McCaughtry, N. (2011). Culturally relevant physical education in urban schools: Reflecting cultural knowledge. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 82(1), 49-60.
Haque, Z & Elliot, S (n.d.). Barriers Visible and Invisible Barriers :the impact of racism on BME teachers: Runnymede Trust

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