When tragedy hits we feel many emotions, and each of us deals with that tragedy in their own way. Feelings of anger, confusion and isolation are common and yet the way in which our community reacts can define us. As my PLN, comprising mostly of educators, came together to show support for those affected by the recent atrocity in Christchurch, New Zealand my strongest feelings were those of helplessness and sadness.
This weeks #Slowchathealth blog post comes from New Zealand educator Celia Fleck. Please read her powerful words, and follow not only her account but also those of other HPE educators from New Zealand.
So ask me again now, what is the relevance of Health and Physical Education?
My heart is heavy as a result of the tragedy that struck the Muslim community of Christchurch one week ago today. My love and thoughts have gone out to the people of Christchurch, who have once again experienced significant loss of life and physical and emotional trauma – in particular the families who have lost loved ones. Indeed, our whole country is grieving after this heinous and cowardly attack on our peaceful nation.
I have also found myself this past week confronted by the more insidious acts that occur on a daily basis in our country; the name calling, the comments on people’s appearance that may be different to our own, people being excluded because they do not fit the ‘norm’, the bigotry and hate towards minority groups. The sense of white superiority over Māori, our indigenous people, and ‘other’ groups of people in Aotearoa – Pasifika, Asia, and now Muslim. This has given me pause for some deep personal reflection.
I have long admired the way Ellen DeGeneres signs off her show “Be kind to one another”, and have thought that if we all conducted ourselves in this way we would eliminate the hatred. But is it enough just to be kind? Or do we need to do more? I believe that we all need to take the time to learn about and understand people who are different to ourselves; to reach out and connect with people, listen to their stories, experience their culture and language. We also need to stand up for diversity, and not tolerate the harmful attitudes and behaviors of others. In this way we might strengthen humanity.
Our Health and Physical Education curriculum area is founded on love, compassion and empathy. Our underlying concepts mandate non-discrimination, well-being and a sense of community. Hauora (wellbeing) is something we not only understand and teach, but we embody. Educators around Aotearoa and the world can demonstrate leadership at this time by talking about and role-modelling wellbeing. We can discuss how we can enhance our own and others wellbeing, and the role that movement can play in this.
I am often asked about the relevance of Physical Education in today’s society? Is this curriculum learning area redundant?
Now more than ever, we need to highlight how movement in all its forms – physical education, physical activity, sport and play – can contribute to building a more peaceful society and a better future for Aotearoa and the world. It is in ‘learning through movement’ that we can explicitly teach the values of friendship and respect; and that prejudice and intolerance have no place in society. Although there are some inherent values learned through participation in physical activity alone, explicit teaching of these concepts maximizes the learning.
Physical Education allows us to formally and purposefully teach generosity, acceptance of diversity, social responsibility, inclusiveness, non-discrimination and respect for others through movement. Physical Education is blessed with a number of models by which this can be done, for example, Hellison’s Social Responsibility model and Olympism Education.
And what role does sport and sporting bodies play in contributing to peaceful nations? Is sport unifying or divisive?
What has lifted my spirit this past week is the outpouring of aroha (love) and compassion that has been evident across Aotearoa New Zealand, and the unity of people coming together to support our Muslim Community. In the words of Imam Gamal Fouda “We are heartbroken, but we are not broken.”
Te aroha (love)
Te whakapono (hope)
Me te Rangimarie (and peace)
Tatou tatou e (be amongst us all)
If you liked this blog post from Celia, you might also like ‘Te Whare Tapa Whā’ the blog post from Georgia Dougherty in which she shared how Health teachers in New Zealand have an interesting perspective when it comes to framing their health and wellness curriculum which owes much to the cultural identity of the indigenous population on the islands, the Maori.