I have recently given up on teaching in ‘academia’ in preparation of sports coaches, and, physical education teachers formation. To me, it seemed I and Physical Education: Teacher Education (PE:TE) or university faculty coach development was making little impact. This is because by the time they hit the ‘coal face’, they basically endured what was being ‘done’ at the working level of the schools/clubs’ culture. Indeed, to ensure that I fully understand what was happening, I even undertook a short term PE teaching contract within a public school.

Thus, I thought I better ponder ‘globalisation’ and its effect on the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education framework… Easy going I know!!! DO NOT READ if you’re after light and fluffy.

However, in this series, I will be highlighting the early responses of Doune MacDonald, Timothy Lynch and Dawn Penney (someone of ‘legendary’ status in our discipline as no doubt the previous two will also attain), in the formation of what I believe is a pretty pragmatic piece for PE teachers to follow.

First actor in this journey is the ‘lead’ author, Doune MacDonald.

Please remember that I am a ‘prac’ademic really and prefer the field. I am using the bones of a Masters level coursework essay that I wrote a few years ago when I had to teach the AC:HPE framework. Indeed, in 2013 when it was just a draft, I had to prepare PE students (Dip Ed) through three syllabus frameworks in 9 weeks!!! Thus, I noted the framework’s ‘global’ and ‘neo-liberal’ influences early.

D’Mac! The LEAD author!!!

D’Mac! The LEAD author!!!

I am going to put it out there… BEHAVIOUR CHANGE is hard!!! I like the AC:HPE and here I begin my speculative at times journey:

In a lecture to an audience of health and physical educators, the lead writer of the 2015, Australian Curriculum, Health and Physical Education (AC:HPE) syllabus, Doune MacDonald, described the processes of creation, and, subsequent implementation of the document, as needing and also reflecting a degree of ‘gradualism’ (MacDonald, 2012).  I believe that the document mirrors the middle ground that Professor MacDonald was aiming for; this was especially important in order to satisfy the greatest number of stakeholders with interests in the field.  The AC: HPE syllabus importantly also positions itself as an actor in the rise of globalisation.  It can be seen as a response to financial reforms (Carnoy, 1998; Henry et al., 1999) but also as an important cultural and social support structure that will help Australians of the future navigate through rapid changes around the globe.  To effectively analyse the AC:HPE document in this light, a conceptualisation of globalisation will be used that considers the economic, political and cultural influences that affect schooling within Australia, that are spurred on greatly by the nation-state repositioning itself in new ‘global’ times.

Only 1973 views??? Should have gone viral as I am a fan of ‘gradualism’:

Within this keynote lecture, the lead writer of the AC: HPE syllabus, Doune MacDonald outlines some of the main rationale behind the development of the document.  Weaved throughout is the question as to whether or not the notion of ‘gradualism’ has influenced the syllabus’s development, and indeed, whether gradualism is required when thinking about this new reform.  In doing so, although she superficially addresses the many stakeholders that have influenced the AC: HPE syllabus, I firmly believe that gradualism was the only true way that the document was going to satisfy the interacting forces that are at play, whilst Australia responds to globalisation.

I have seen this framework used by key PE teachers in their planning at ‘coal-face’ level: https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/health-and-physical-education/

Now we’re talking!!!

Now we’re talking!!!

In any case, this was my intentions of the evaluation:

This following paper asked me to consider how a sector/issue, plus, setting/context, had been transformed by globalisation.  From the outset, my choice to analyse the recently launched, Australian Curriculum, Health and Physical Education (AC:HPE) syllabus (ACARA 2015),  was not a clear one in this regard.  This is due to the fact that whilst cultural, economic and social forces stemming from global, neo-liberal, nationalistic and other drivers influenced the development framework of the document, just as Alan Ovens (2012) observed in the 2007, New Zealand national HPE curriculum, it appears that there is major doubt among many academics as to whether the pedagogy of Health and Physical Education (HPE) teachers will rise to meet the standards espoused within the text (Lynch, 2014; Penney, 2013).  Indeed as Evans and Penney (1998) point out, education policy is never neutral and is a complex process where social and political, “vested interests and values are always and inevitably expressed” (p72).  However, it should be noted that whatever the discourses that forged together, or, fought against one another, during the creation of the AC: HPE document, I suggest that the discipline area is now in a position of power possibly unrivalled in its history.  For example, it appears that in primary schools nationwide from years P-6, only Mathematics and English are afforded as much specified curriculum time as the HPE key learning area (KLA).  At the same time, it must be said that much of my resultant analysis of the AC: HPE analysis in view of globalisation is highly speculative.  Whilst I gave positive feedback in the creative process about the document’s development and shape, I was not there in the working group who authored it, and as such I am merely making educated assumptions.  Interestingly however, I will suggest that global forces certainly played a large part in this development for the KLA’s new direction, yet, as aforementioned the process of negotiating important influences and stakeholders was never going to be easy for the designers, especially for the chief author.

ACHPER Five Propositions.png

More on ‘gradualism’ as the middle ground:

…Professor Doune Macdonald, described the processes of creating, and, subsequently implementing the document, as needing and also reflecting, a degree of ‘gradualism’ (Macdonald, 2012).  Thus, I believe that the AC: HPE document mirrors the middle ground that Professor Macdonald was aiming for and is a minor triumph; this again was especially important in order to satisfy the greatest number of stakeholders, all with differing and discursive interests in the field (Lynch, 2014).  Importantly, the AC: HPE syllabus also positions itself as an actor and artefact in the rise of globalisation, because:  firstly, it can be seen as a response to financial reforms (Carnoy, 1998; Henry et al., 1999); and secondly, with its ‘future’s perspective’, as Macdonald pointed out (2013), it may also prove an important cultural and social support structure that will help young Australians navigate through rapid changes around the globe.  However, in order to effectively analyse the AC:HPE document in this light, a conceptualisation of globalisation will be used that considers the many economic, political and cultural influences that affect schooling within Australia.  These influences are spurred on greatly by the nation-state repositioning itself in new ‘global’ times (Ozgar and Lingard, 2007; Carnoy, 2014).  Therefore, this essay will view the AC: HPE syllabus in light of the ‘gradual’ change that Macdonald and team negotiated in response to political, cultural and economic turbulence that affects Australia due to globalisation.  This will be done through an examination of: firstly, the reflections of Doune Macdonald in the lead-up to her employment as lead writer of the AC: HPE framework; secondly, through an examination of the experiences garnered from one of Macdonald’s learned peers, Dawn Penney, on past curriculum launches and her great involvement within them; and finally, the document itself will be analysed in view of ‘gradualism’ (Macdonald, 2013) and how some of the subject matter was shaped by global forces (as I have deconstructed the document superficially in this light in two previous assignments I will be brief in my analysis here).    However, to understand the final presentation of the HPE framework and the fact that it sated so many competing interests, one must first go back and look at the development of the ‘lead writer’.



How good is ‘speculation’???

Professor Doune Macdonald was chosen by the Australian Curriculum Assessment, and Reporting Authority as the lead writer of the AC: HPE syllabus.  She was chosen ahead of other contemporaries like Dawn Penney who will be introduced later.  Having read much of both academics over the year, I find this an interesting and a possibly politically motivated choice, as both had been quite vocal and critical about globalisation’s and neo-liberalism’s impact on HPE over the decades.  For example, over 20 years ago, Macdonald and colleagues were co-authoring papers outlining the effects of globalisation and how Australia as a nation state’s subsequent response to it, was greatly effecting the KLA.  However, Macdonald and peers called the process, “corporate federalism”, which featured the four key discourses of: neo-corporatism, economic rationalism, corporate managerialism and human capital theory (Brooker and Macdonald, 1995; Kirk et al., 1997).  The fact that she and colleagues were conceptualising ‘globalisation’ without using the term, and, instead opting for ‘corporate federalism’ makes sense in view of Waters’ assertion that in February 1994, the, “Library of Congress contained only 34 publications with the term (globalisation)” (2001).  This is especially clear when considering how Macdonald and company wrote the first article cited above in 1993, and, that it was eventually published in 1995.  Thus, from now until the end of the paper, ‘globalisation’ will be duly replacing ‘corporate federalism’ when talking about Australian education processes. 

D’Mac!!! Doing the job…

D’Mac!!! Doing the job…

Timothy Lynch and Dawn LEGEND Penny coming soon BUT:

Macdonald’s thoughts from the mid 1990’s, right up until her employment by ACARA to lead the AC: HPE process in 2012, were very clear about globalisation’s negative impacts.  For example, in 1995 she cites that there were four key discourses that were most troubling the future of physical educators: “PE as health, PE as sport, PE as academic study, and, PE as science” (p104).  Like Carnoy (1998; 2014), she felt that economic and social changes, or, the ‘globalisation’ pressures that occurred during the 1980s, led to great competition between the governments of nation-states on the world stage.  This was seen from the discourses that were newly influencing PE like: a) PE as health, where educators were now charged with fostering independent, self-responsible and self-regulating citizens, who could negotiate an “international consumer community” (p104); b) PE as sport, where the powerful and all-encompassing need for Australia’s sporting prowess within the world community, led to “the repositioning of PE within a sport education framework”  (p106); c) PE as academic study, where teachers’ “work under the rationalists’ microscope” (p107), and were charged to find a new need to legitimise their subject as more than just playing games; d) PE as science,  where new international and national pushes for the increase of certain knowledge like science was being valued, “because of their perceived worth in contributing to economic growth and development,” and as a result, found PE aligning itself within greater scientific pursuits.  From here, we are given further signposts as to Doune’s future worth in negotiating the dynamic policy making process.  For example, where: firstly, in 1997, and again like Carnoy (2014), she and colleagues argued against using education as a tool for economic efficiency and productivity, especially though means of utilising education as a competency based framework for assessment, that was clearly inspired by the, “regulation of performance standards across the Australian workforce” (p289); secondly, in 2004, she reflected on educators’ who were now realising the complexities of power, especially through globalisation, again however, only in certain educational knowledge, like science and mathematics, “and how schooling as a cultural work is bound to be messy” (p75); thirdly, in 2008 she was clear in the link between neo-liberalism and the globalisation of education, that saw, “neo-liberal school reforms designed to privatize traditional government educational and school services (e.g. free schooling, staffing of schools) and return them to the marketplace in which "choice" is believed to provide a better outcome” (p7); and finally, in 2011 - which was just prior to her involvement in the AC: HPE document - she warned HPE practitioners again of the link between neo-liberalism and globalisation, that was shown in the now new national push for “high stakes testing …outsourcing PE to external providers…(and) making the case that each is a response to neoliberalism and potentially the ‘deprofessionalization’ of PE” (p36).  Thus, whilst I outlined earlier that much of this paper is speculative, and, that I found the choice of Professor Macdonald as lead writer ‘interesting’ and possibly ‘politically motivated’ - especially in regard Doune’s responses to global forces above - one would like to think that the professional body representing HPE teachers and others interested in the ‘physical’, like the Australian Council for Health Physical Education and Recreation (ACHPER), must have surely lobbied hard and well, especially considering the near presence of Professor Dawn Penney, who is not entirely convinced about the worth of the AC: HPE framework, in these significantly global times.

MORE to come with Lynch and Penney in that order…

Academics who have probably (and rightly so not read further) sorry if I have upset anyone. I am just a teacher…

Yours in learning,