Unpacking the Concept of Physical Literacy

Unpacking the concept of physical literacy.

In talking to numerous groups recently I have found that the following clarification has been helpful.

The definition includes an end goal and the means to reach that goal.

The end goal is to engage in physical activities for life. The means for that end to be reached are the:-


  • Development of motivation – without the encouragement from others who recognise individual effort and progress and the personal experience of the rewarding pleasure in participation in physical activity it is doubtful if individuals will have the interest and drive to take opportunities to participate.


  • Fostering of confidence – without the realisation of the ways that involvement in physical activity can enhance self- respect and self-worth and thus confidence, there could well be little incentive to participate in physical activity.


  • Growing physical competence – without a sound foundation of a wide variety of movement patterns that are applied to a range of challenging and meaningful physical activity contexts there is little chance that individuals will find physical activity rewarding and worthwhile.


  • Increase in knowledge and understanding – without some grasp of the nature and characteristics of movement and of the life-long value of participation in physical activity it is doubtful that there will be a lasting incentive to take steps to ensure that physical activity is maintained throughout life.


  • Ability to take responsibility for making decisions – without the self-assurance and the strength of a personal purpose to make independent decisions about a life-style it is doubtful if individuals will be able to hold onto an intention to remain active.


So if you see physical literacy or a commitment to physical activity for life as a goal for e.g. physical education, it is suggested that you need to take steps to address all the means listed above.
Margaret Whitehead. June 2015.