Physical Literacy 101 – A Primer

25th January 2018 by Helen Parker
Physical Literacy 101 – A Primer

In the coming year you will likely hear a lot about the term, physical literacy. You may be challenged by parents or your Principal about what you do to teach physical literacy. They might like to know why you are teaching physical education instead of physical literacy. The concept of physical literacy is being promulgated by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) as a new concept that is fundamental to lifelong participation in sports and physical activity for health and fitness.

What is physical literacy?

The ASC defines physical literacy as “the integration of physical, psychological, cognitive and social capabilities that help us live active, healthy and fulfilling lifestyles:

  • Physical – the skills and fitness a person acquires and applies through movement
  • Psychological – the attitudes and emotions a person has towards movement and the impact these have on their confidence and motivation to move
  • Cognitive – a person’s understanding of how, why and when they move
  • Social – a person’s interaction with others and the environment in relation to movement”

For detail, go to: ausport/physical_literacy

You will immediately recognise these concepts, although the labels are different. The concepts are embedded in the Rationale and Outline of the WA HPE Curriculum.  In Health and Physical Education, students develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to make decisions and take action to strengthen their sense of personal identity and autonomy, build resilience, manage risk and develop satisfying, respectful relationships. They learn to take a critical approach to questioning physical activity and health practices and to use inquiry skills to research factors that influence the health, safety, wellbeing, and physical activity patterns of themselves, individuals, groups and communities. As students grow and mature, they learn to access, analyse and apply a variety of resources for the benefit of themselves and the communities to which they belong.

So, by implementing the WA HPE Curriculum, designing quality learning opportunities, and using contemporary pedagogy for solo and group physical activities you are already developing physical literacy capability in your students.
You can confidently answer: “YES”, HPE is key to physical literacy but it is more than that.
In addition, HPE is inclusive, supporting ALL students regardless of motor ability, and HPE has a prime educative purpose for every individual.

The next instalment, Physical Literacy 102, will show how the ASC framework is conceived from a sports participation perspective. How does this perspective work with HPE? What about teaching sport in school? Do the five propositions enable physical literacy development?