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ERIC Number: EJ974202
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 54
ISSN: ISSN-1740-8989
Rhetoric and Reality: The Role of the Teacher in Shaping a School Sport Programme
Bowles, Richard; O'Sullivan, Mary
Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, v17 n3 p303-316 2012
Background: Extra-curricular sport is an important aspect of life in Irish primary schools. Team invasion games hold a dominant position and, within this category, Gaelic games are extremely popular. Teachers have, historically, played a significant role in the promotion of Gaelic games through the organization of inter-school competitions. The Irish primary physical education curriculum document recommends a "balanced approach to competition" where extra-curricular activities are organized in accordance with the "aims and objectives" of the curriculum. This approach appears to be shared by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), the national governing body for Gaelic games, through its promotion of school games that advocate maximum participation. Purpose: This study focused on the following research questions: (1) to what extent does current school practice align with national education and youth sport policy, as articulated by the DES and GAA, respectively; (2) how do teachers' biographies influence the ethos of extra-curricular programmes; and (3) how do these teachers resolve the apparent tensions between the competitive and participatory models of extra-curricular games activities. Participants and setting: Seven primary teachers, six of whom were school principals, participated in this study. Each of them had shown a strong commitment to the promotion of Gaelic games as part of school sport programmes. Research design: The conceptual framework for this study was based on the main tenets of figurational sociology. The research was qualitative in nature and a purposive sample of teachers was developed. Data collection and analysis: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant. Policy documents were reviewed. The initial coding of the data was carried out inductively. The subsequent development of categories and themes was guided by the research questions and was subject to constant comparison. Findings: Teachers' childhood experiences were important in the shaping of their attitudes towards school sport. Other teachers and members of the wider school community were very influential during their early teaching careers. The participants in this study identified the school principal as someone who had a key role in shaping a school sport ethos. School sport was seen as an important means of maintaining discipline and social cohesion. It also provided children with opportunities for personal development. The promotion of Gaelic games helped to develop community links and to express cultural identity. Competitive inter-school competitions were still prominent, but other models of school sport, based on maximizing participation, are becoming more popular. Conclusions: The selection and organization of particular forms of school sport is influenced by teachers' personal background. The teachers who participated in this study are part of complex networks of relationships and have a significant impact on how extra-curricular sport activities are promoted. Teachers play a key role in determining how national policy is delivered at a local level. While participatory games models are becoming increasingly popular, there still exists a strong commitment to competitive games for the more able students. This has implications for policy-makers seeking to promote more inclusive forms of extra-curricular sport. (Contains 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Primary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Ireland