How focusing on the pleasure of movement helps HPE teachers create lessons that last a lifetime

How focusing on the pleasure of movement helps HPE teachers create lessons that last a lifetime

Valuing movement is one of the key ideas in the new health and physical education curriculum. It’s an idea that can go well beyond traditional three-week sport and game cycles.

This is the final part of our video series looking at the five propositions in the HPE curriculum from Monash researchers Karen Lambert and Justen O’Connor.

In this video

Think about the experience of moving

Justen: Physical education teachers are familiar with the idea of valuing movement. It’s a part of everything we do. It’s the physical activities part of our physical education program.

Karen:  For me, valuing movement is about thinking about the experience of movement for its own sake and appreciating that it’s a fundamental right – one that some people don’t have access to.

Questioning why we move comes before how we move. The curriculum focuses on the inherent feelings that come with movement. It’s a great starting point, and a chance to talk about the pleasure that comes with moving.

Think about life-long movement and life-wide movement

Justen: Life-wide movement refers to activities we do in our everyday lives. Not just inside the four walls of a physical education class but outside in the playground, at home and in the community.  We can talk about how we connect and value movement in our everyday lives, grounded in the place we live.

Life-long movement refers to how we, as educators, can think about movement as not just something happening in our class, but preparing young people to be movers for the rest of their life.

In HPE there is a very clear focus on sports and games and that tactical awareness is an important thing to learn.

But as people age, those things don’t necessarily stay relevant. Often in adulthood people engage with informal activities that are more social and less competitive.  As teachers, we need to help young people also value these kinds of activities.

Children hanging on monkey bars in a playground
Life-wide movement refers to activities we do in our everyday lives, not just inside the four walls of a physical education class.

We need to develop mindsets and body-sets as well as skillsets

Karen: What we need to develop is a movement mindset and a movement body-set as well as a movement skillset.

This can be based on pleasure, what the body likes, how the body likes to move.  The key to this is diversity, variety and choice. Moving, and moving well is a fundamental right, but not everyone can experience that magic.

There is inherent value in moving. It feels good. It feels amazing. The question is: How do we encourage young people to have that movement, to not feel threatened and to persist enough to take it into the future?

Social skills are just as important as the technical skills

Justen:  We can encourage our students to think about the social skills of movement – the way people interact with each other.  It means they might give up some of the more performance-based stuff so others can enjoy themselves.

We can propose questions to students: How do we negotiate the aesthetic, the clothing, the body, the equipment, the resources?  How do we find one of these informal sporting groups? How can we be a part of them?  How do we create our own opportunities for movement, and support others to come and join us?

These are really important skills that teachers encourage as part of valuing movement.

Two friends carrying surfboards on the beach
We can encourage our students to think about the social skills of movement – the way people interact with each other.

Move away from three-four week cycles of activities

Justen: I would strongly encourage teachers to move well away from the three to four week cycle of movement activities.

If we are going to develop real, rich and meaningful understandings of movement, and we are going to value that in education, then we need to push towards longer units of work. It allows us to build substantive ideas about what it means to enjoy a particular movement, and what are the nuances around it.

There is a real opportunity for creativity, for curiosity and for movement for movement’s sake. It means exploring things in-movement, not just the tactical or technical side of things.

It allows students to think about diverse ways of moving and being creative, to create new forms of movement, or to adapt existing things.

It opens up our notions of difference, includes more young people and gives them a place where movement is an enjoyable thing to do, something they can create and persist with throughout their lives.

Bringing movement experiences into the classrooms can help students who are disengaged

Karen: We all know the kids who are disengaged from our classes. Sometimes they are to blame, but mostly I think we – the educators – are to blame.

Valuing movement should be an embodied experience. It’s about bringing these experiences into the classroom so our students can really feel and appreciate them in a safe place. As teachers, we can guide our students through the process of understanding what it is like to be inside their body and inside a movement moment.

An example would be to use a set of vignettes, case studies, short stories or plays that are sense-based and feeling-based by nature. These materials provide opportunities – through conversations, performances and questioning – for young people to hear the stories about what it feels like to move, even if they haven’t had those experiences themselves.

The students can seek them out in their own lives.  Getting comfort from this experience is one of the first steps to valuing movement. It brings courage. And with that fun, pleasure and courage come with an opportunity to go out and to move and do different things in different kinds of ways.

A great starter activity that builds into a semester-long activity

Justen: A great starter activity is to get young people to think about what movement means to them.

I dim the lights and put a couple of films on the wall with waves crashing down. I read a narrative about a surfer sitting on his board. I speak about what the surfer is feeling: at peace, at ease and the emotion of the waves.

Then we talk about the wave coming: the exhilaration, the rush and the thrill – embodied notions of what it means to be able to surf.


Developed by Monash University and published in collaboration with ACHPER, Health and Physical Education: The Five Propositions is a set of five cards that can be used by teachers, educators and university students as a tool to help support their emerging understandings of the five propositions of the new Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education.

These cards are available through the ACHPER website.