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Physical education: the concept and its justification

By L J M Wright


In part one, chapter one, the meaning of education is looked at. It is\ud argued that 'education' is an essentially contestable concept and that\ud philosophers of education can only hope to define it themselves by putting\ud forward their own contestable definitions. I then define the concept as:\ud learning which promotes the development of the person qua person, but\ud I recognise that this is contestable. With the ultimate aim of being able\ud to defend this definition, chapter two is devoted to examining the concept\ud of learning and chapters three to six to the concept of the person. More\ud specifically with reference to the latter, in chapter three, a short\ud exposition is given of how what it is to be a person has been explained\ud in the past, in chapter four, that it is essentially characteristic of the\ud person that he is a centre of human experience, and in chapters five and\ud six, respectively, that he is also a rational and moral agent. In part\ud two, chapter seven, the concept of development is analysed and, in\ud chapter eight, the definition of education given above is explained and\ud defended against other definitions.\ud In part three, the concept of physical education is examined and justified.\ud In the first two chapters the subject matter is defined. Chapter nine\ud being concerned with the concept of sport and the value of physical skill\ud and chapter ten with physical education, dance and aesthetic values.\ud Then, in chapter eleven physical education is justified in that it can\ud legitimately be said to fulfil two roles. Namely, it gives a conceptual\ud group of activities a name and at the same time it correctly asserts these\ud activities are of educational value. By taking a formalist theory usually\ud to be found in the philosophy of art and by applying it to P. E. activities,\ud physical education can be seen to have a coherent rationale and recognisable\ud 'KI values which are unique and which are appreciated disinterestedly by\ud the participant; and, by taking the definition of education which has\ud already been put forward and defended in parts one and two, physical\ud education is justified because of the considerable contribution it- makes to\ud the development of the person qua person.\ud Firstly, as a centre of experience a person can gain intrinsic satisfaction:\ud generally through experiencing the interplay of different powers; and\ud more specifically through learning to move skilfully and in some activities\ud 2\ud aesthetically as well. Secondly, as an evaluator, a person, by learning\ud to perform in sport and dance, will have the range of intrinsically\ud worthwhile activities open to him increased. Thirdly, but incidentally,\ud physical education may, to a limited extent, make a contribution to the\ud development of the person as a moral agent. Fourthly, and also\ud incidentally, engagement in many P. E. activities is likely to make a\ud person physically fit and could therefore help in an indirect way towards\ud the development of the person and the subsequent quality of his life.\ud Finally, however, it is concluded that it is only because there are values\ud in physical education which are not to be found anywhere else, namely\ud unique I KI qualities, and the appreciation of which requires initiation\ud as a participant into different physical activities, that the educational\ud value of P. E. activities can be most strongly justified and the subsequent\ud place of physical education on the school curriculum

Year: 1984
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