Physical Literacy – A Debate

Published: April 27, 2015

Pre-Olympic Congress Thessaloniki, Greece – 2004
Physical Literacy – A Debate
Margaret Whitehead

The intention of this paper is to stand back from current physical education practice and take a broad philosophical view of the fundamental goals of all aspects of movement education. The concept of Physical Literacy as currently defined is presented and compared with the notion of being ‘physically educated’. The concept of Physical Literacy is justified from an existential and phenomenological viewpoint. Physical Literacy is then considered alongside firstly motor development and secondly the ongoing work on talent identification.

The implications of the notion of Physical Literacy for movement opportunities from birth and in movement education and physical education throughout schooling are considered.

Finally the paper opens up four areas of debate in relation to the concept of Physical Literacy: Is Physical Literacy a universal concept? How can the concept relate to the physically challenged and those with other disabilities? How far should a physically literate individual be able to verbalise/articulate the components of this attribute? Has an understanding of personal health promotion a place in the concept of Physical Literacy?


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