Developing a ‘Fit’ Attitude in Primary School Children: How Do Children Regard PE in School and How Does This Affect Their Attitudes Toward Fitness and Well-Being?
Much has changed in the last twenty years in the UK with regard to attitudes towards children’s health and fitness. We now have a government which is referring ‘child obesity’ using the medical terminology ‘epidemic'. The national diet has declined to a point that children’s health and food have become the focus of television programmes, as well as a national campaign to change school meals by one of the leading chefs in the country, and to teach parents to start cooking again. Children spend hours in front of the television or their computers and engagement in street sport and activity has declined, in part due to concerns about child safety.
The Olympics in 2012 are being staged in London and the ‘Olympic legacy’ is a hot topic in the sports world in Britain. There is a one-off opportunity for the UK to draw on its upcoming hosting of the games to boost sports, fitness and well-being, and re-engage the younger population in physical activity. Yet everything seems to be being approached from the perspective of adults, and not from the children themselves. This is at odds with advocates of a child-centred approach to education (see for example Plowden, 1967; Freire, 1974; Moore 2000; and Scott, 2002).
Within this changing context of fitness and sport in the UK, this paper presents some research findings which have sought out the views of children – what are their views on health and fitness and physical activity? How do they view physical education both in and out of schools, and what do they see as the benefits of our hosting the Olympics in 2012? This paper also explores the children’s views on a curriculum driven by external or market forces (see for example Whitty, 1977; MacDonald, 1977; Ball, 1993; and Apple, 1995) and how the Olympic and Paralympic legacy might enrich their learning environment.
Keywords: Children's Health, Physical Education
Dr. Barry Costas
Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Hertfordshire