chapter  1
Aims as an issue in physical education
ByMARGARET WHITEHEAD
Pages 16

It is perhaps surprising that there should be need for a chapter in this book about the aims of a subject that has been a recognised part of education for almost a century. It is doubtful if there would be call for such a chapter in a book about mathematics or history, for instance. There are perhaps two reasons why the physical education profession needs to confront this issue; one relates to an advantage the subject has in the curriculum and the other to a problem inherent in physical education. To the advantage of the subject there are numerous very worthwhile outcomes of pupils being involved in physical education, for example health benefits, initiation into aspects of the culture of the society and learning to work in groups. (See Capel and Whitehead 1997 for further discussion of a range of outcomes of physical education.) Where there are a number of possible valuable outcomes it is inevitable that there will be debate about where the priority should lie. Working against the subject is the view that physical education is recreation rather than education and therefore does not deserve a place in the school curriculum. From this viewpoint it is held that pupils have plenty of opportunities for recreation at breaktimes and after school; curriculum time should be used for serious study. Faced with this challenge it is not surprising that the profession has to be both clear about the value of the subject and able to articulate this persuasively.