Exploring Religious Education and Health and Physical Education Key Learning Area Connections in Primary Schools

By Timothy Lynch.

Published by The International Journal of Humanities Education

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This study explored if connections were made by teachers and students in schools between religious education (RE) and health and physical education (HPE) key learning areas (KLA). The research was conducted within three Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) Catholic primary schools of varying enrolment size. It is argued that within Catholic education, the HPE curriculum documents are strongly connected to the RE curriculum material (Lynch 2004). The spiritual dimension of the HPE curriculum is defined in the syllabus as the “sense of connection to phenomena and unusual events beyond self and usual sensory and rational existence; a sense of place within the universe” (Queensland School Curriculum Council 1999, 26). The three strands of HPE: personal development; developing the concepts and skills for physical activities; and promoting the health of individuals and communities can all be affiliated closely with the RE curriculum. Furthermore, under the HPE umbrella, physical education sits alongside health education, outdoor education, home economics, and RE (Macdonald 2003; Macdonald and Glover 1997). In primary schools, physical learning and physical activities are valuable components of the students’ and school culture. Christian spirituality is the essential link between faith and culture (Gallagher 1997). Hence, it is logical that the learning area for "learning in, through and about movement", HPE, may offer opportunities for Catholic schools to develop Christian spirituality usually associated with the RE learning area. As Buchanan and Hyde (2008, 310) share, “religious education is one field of study that can effectively address the complementarity between cognitive, affective and spiritual dimensions of learning”. Qualitative research investigating RE development through HPE learning experiences was conducted. Participants included teachers and students from the three respective schools. The research concluded that well implemented quality inclusive physical activities within HPE lessons increased participant’s connections between the two key learning areas.

Keywords: Religious Education, Health and Physical Education, Spirituality, Primary Schools, Catholic Education

The International Journal of Humanities Education, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp.11-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 375.895KB).

Dr. Timothy Lynch

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education - Gippsland Campus, Monash University, Churchill, Victoria, Australia

Tim is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University – Gippsland campus. He coordinates the health and physical education (HPE) discipline stream within the Bachelor of Primary Education course. He has fifteen years teaching experience as a classroom teacher, as the Head of Foundation Stage and Key Stage One (English International School, Qatar), and a health and physical education specialist teacher in various school communities and education systems. In 2006, he was the Australian Council for HPE Teresa Carlson Award recipient for his outstanding dedication to the teaching of HPE and promotion of its benefits within the community. His research interests include health and physical education, pedagogy and quality teaching practices, lifelong wellness, curriculum change, enhancing all learning through physical activities and primary education.