May 5, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2002

England, Penelope
Oxford College
Department of Physical Education and Dance


Project Summary

Each of my five one credit hour physical education activity courses will be modified so that, while students’ focus must be on physical skills acquisition and the attendant cognitive elements, we (students and instructor) can increase our awareness and appreciation for the environment and the natural world on which we depend for our movement and breath.

Since I wish to increase this awareness without adding to the already time-demanding effort of learning tennis skills, swimming skills, or the daily practice of stress management techniques, I am incorporating my “Piedmont project” during class time as much as possible. Only my stress management activity classes will be assigned outside readings relevant to the Piedmont project and, with the tennis classes and swimming class, will be asked to respond to various environmental questions within the context of class meetings.

Early in the semester all classes will have five minutes to write an in class response to this assignment: a) What will learning the skills for this class require of my body and mind? b) What do I need to do for my body and mind to prepare myself to meet these requirements? c) In what ways are the answers to a) and b) dependent on the natural world?

Students will be assigned these questions at least one week prior to answering them in class. At the same time, they will have been given very brief excerpts from Banner and Cannon’s The Elements of Learning and The Elements of Teaching and from “Children in the Woods” in Crossing Open Ground by Barry Lopez. These readings and the students’ answers (which will be anonymously shared within each class) will set the stage for our Piedmont project awareness as we move through the semester.

My stress management classes will also read Wendell Berry’s “Think Little” from The Art of the Commonplace, and write a personal response to it in class. Stress management is very much about personal responsibility and “Think Little” draws us to personal responsibility.

At opportune moments throughout the semester in tennis classes I will present material on the impact of the tennis industry (e.g., court construction, racquet, ball, shoe construction, tennis clothing production) on the environment. I will do the same in my swimming class (e.g., pool construction, the environment created by the chemically treated pool water and its discharge, aquatic equipment production, swim suit and goggle production). I will ask my students to give personal responses to this information in one-minute papers during class time.

I am hoping that my students and I will come to a clearer understanding that “innocent” activities, such as tennis and swimming, which are “good for us” have environmental impacts of which we must be aware and for which we must accept individual responsibility. I hope their end of semester review of their notebooks (in which they will record their one minute personal responses to the questions or ideas I propose) will engender self-reflection and further inquiry into the impact any individual behavior may have on the environment.

If my Piedmont project is successful, I hope that my division colleagues in physical education will see that it is relatively easy to incorporate environmental awareness into the classroom without overburdening students in an already demanding one-hour physical activity class.

Download: England_2002.pdf (62.1 KB)

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