F: Previously we were discussing how this physical curriculum seeks to provide a dynamic, alternative kinaesthetic approach to physical learning, so how does this seemingly mystical process manifest itself through the playing of games?
A: The quickest and the easiest way for Children & Young People to experience and
develop both physical and social skills whilst acquiring a cognitive understanding of their environment is through the medium of play. Games and by this, I mean specifically targeted games, allied with an intelligent physical activity (i.e. Circus skills) are a fantastic and effective form of learning, which builds self-esteem, confidence and celebrates achievement. Also, games used constructively, create well rounded inquisitive individuals who can continue to grow and achieve throughout life. By using play as an instructional tool, we…….
• Activate vitality and stimulate players physically, emotionally, socially, and
• Provide hands-on learning through doing, feeling, and experiencing.
• Reduce stress and provide a healthy outlet for the expression of emotions.
• Bring fun, laughter, and bonding into the learning environment.
• Increase the motivation for young people to learn and participate.
• Stimulate the imagination and spontaneity at the moment.
F: That's all very well, but isn't the educational process supposed to be approached a little more seriously?
A: Seriously? Extremely important that this approach to the concept is not misunderstood! I can assure you that the underlying aims of this concept are taken very seriously at all times, it is only in the execution of the concept that levity, enjoyment and hopefully, a touch of insanity are present. Remember! Was it not Alfred Mercier – The French-speaking poet, novelist, and playwright - who stated:
‘What we learn with pleasure we never forget"!
The approach to learning Intelligent Physical Arts skills and the achievement of ‘Physical Literacy should not be a boring repetitive task but rather be challenging, enjoyable and above all creative!
F: I think I can see where you are coming from but how does this actually work in reality?
A: Speaking from experience, this approach works very well! If you apply this concept you uncover and stimulate this ‘physical intelligence' that lies within us all. This has been described as a bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence.
"The bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence involves the ability to use either the whole body
or individual members to express ideas and feelings, to direct the body to solve
problems, to manipulate various objects and invent new situations."
Kaztaridou, 2012; Makri & Bournelli, 2009.
F: All this fancy terminology sounds impressive, however, how do you ‘uncover' this supposed kinaesthetic-intelligence in a real-time teaching situation?
A: The key to this concept is in the approach to training. If we dissect the above quotation it suggests three basic elements which are the building blocks of physical training: - movement and self, movement with others and movement within an environment. They can be described in very fancy terms if you wish - psycho-motricity, socio-motricity, environmental motricity, but I find that exotic terminology tends to confuse rather than inform. So, sticking to the basics, consider each term separately, devise a programme of games that fulfils what you are trying to achieve within that element and then proceed with the training!
In basic terms the first element – movement and self – is about encouraging people to become more aware of their body, how it moves, how does it create shapes, emotions and how does it react to stimuli e.g. sound, music, rhythm, mood. This element can be as simple or as complicated as you wish but the intention is to encourage the body to express itself, creating freedoms that - because of social convention - tend to be repressed?
F: What do you mean?
A: Everybody is born with an innate sense of movement and rhythm; think toddlers and very young children moving instinctively to music and sound patterns. Society considers this to be cute, irrespective of where it takes place, yet, if an older child, teenager or perish the thought, adult, does the same, this is considered to be less socially acceptable. So, the end result tends to be that this instinctive movement that all humans possess from birth is repressed by society as we grow older. So, we need to, in a word, restore this natural instinct and free the body!
Much the same arguments arise around the second of our elements - movement with others. We as educators need to encourage people to work together using movement that creates interaction, understanding, and co-operation between individuals and within groups, working at creating awareness not just of ourselves but ourselves in harmony with others. And finally, we come to perhaps the most important of the three elements when considering training for the Intelligent Physical Arts – that of movement within an environment.
F: Why so?
A: This is the element that includes the use and manipulation of objects as well as working with larger equipment and structures which as you know is perhaps the basic foundation of all the Intelligent Physical Arts. The aim is to understand and develop and demonstrate this, the final piece of this, a fascinating physical jigsaw. If we begin to educate and achieve using these elements we produce children and young people with developing physical - kinaesthetic intelligences, who can begin to use body language to communicate (gestures, facial expressions). They will start to develop good sense and purpose with regard to both dynamics and static balance (jumping, walking on a line etc) and begin to show control of their movements. They will have muscular strength, flexibility and they will be able to coordinate all their moves with skillfulness and intelligence. Moreover, they will be particularly sensitive to the touch and control of manipulation and they will be able to begin to solve problems through experimentation.
They are on the road to achieving Physical Literacy!
The dialogue continues………….