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Physical education as Olympic education

By J. Parry


Introduction\ud In a recent paper (Parry, 1998, p. 64), I argued that\ud the justification of PE activities lies in their capacity to facilitate the development of certain human excellences of a valued kind. Of course, the problem now lies in specifying those ‘human excellences of a valued kind’, and (for anyone) this task leads us into the area of philosophical anthropology.\ud I suggested that the way forward for Physical Education lies in the philosophical anthropology (and the ethical ideals) of Olympism, which provide a specification of a variety of human values and excellences which:\ud \ud •have been attractive to human groups over an impressive span of time and space\ud \ud •have contributed massively to our historically developed conceptions of ourselves\ud \ud •have helped to develop a range of artistic and cultural conceptions that have defined Western culture.\ud \ud •have produced a range of physical activities that have been found universally satisfying and challenging.\ud \ud Although physical activities are widely considered to be pleasurable, their likelihood of gaining wide acceptance lies rather in their intrinsic value, which transcends the simply hedonic or relative good. Their ability to furnish us with pleasurable experiences depends upon our prior recognition in them of opportunities for the development and expression of valued human excellences. They are widely considered to be such opportunities for the expression of valued human excellences because, even when as local instantiations, their object is to challenge our common human propensities and abilities.\ud \ud I claimed that Olympic ideals may be seen not merely as inert ‘ideals’, but living ideas which have the power to remake our notions of sport in education, seeing sport not as mere physical activity but as the cultural and developmental activity of an aspiring, achieving, well-balanced, educated and ethical individual.\ud \ud This paper seeks to make good that claim by trying to develop a case for Physical Education as Olympic Education. I begin by setting out various accounts and conceptions of the Olympic Idea; then I suggest a unifying and organising account of the philosophical anthropology of Olympism; and this is followed by the practical application of that account in two examples of current ethical issues. Finally, I seek to present an account of Physical Education as Olympic Education

Publisher: Sage Publications
Year: 1998
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