Ever since his daughter, Susie, was born, Mr. Jones has had aspirations for her to be an outstanding athlete. As soon as she was old enough, he spent countless hours in the backyard teaching her how to throw and catch. Susie was enrolled in private swimming and gymnastics lessons at age 3. By the time she started kindergarten, she was able to bat, use a modified tennis racquet to hit balls off the backboard at the neighborhood courts, swim proficiently, and execute many gymnastics skills.

 

Because he was so interested in athletics, Mr. Jones questioned Susie carefully about what she did in her physical education class. Mr. Jones figured that with expert instruction, Susie would learn sports even faster. Susie reported that she really enjoyed gym class. Her teacher, Ms. Smith, asked the class a lot of questions and encouraged them to explore different ways that their bodies could move. They tried a lot of different activities. “What activities?” asked Mr. Jones. Susie replied, “We do balancing, make different shapes, follow different paths, and learn to move in different directions, like going over a bar, under a hurdle, and through a rolled up mat. We learn about our personal space, how to make ourselves smaller and larger, and to move at different levels. Ms. Smith calls it movement education. It’s a lot of fun.”

 

After a month of listening to what Susie was doing in physical education class, Mr. Jones became concerned because she was not learning any sport skills. After all, he did not want the time he had spent with Susie in the backyard teaching her skills or the large amount of money he spent on private instruction to be wasted. He decided to meet with Ms. Smith to find out why the children were not being taught sports. He knew that to be a star athlete, you had to start young and dedicate yourself to being the best. He arranged a conference with Ms. Smith.

 

At their meeting, Mr. Jones, voiced his concerns to Ms. Smith about what the children were learning in physical education class. “Why aren’t they taught gymnastics or basketball or tennis? Why are they doing all these silly activities?”

  • Read and examine the case thoroughly. Identify the relevant facts and underlying key problems.
  • Focus your analysis. Identify 2-5 key problems and why the reasons exist.
  • Identify the ethical issues in the case study.
  • Identify possible solutions.
  • Present your recommendations.
  •  

    Expert Answers

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    There are really two ways to approach this case study. One side of the case study could be told from the teacher's perspective, the other from the perspective of the parent. In education, in general, there are always more than one way to approach any given situation. Since your question asked for identifying a variety of issues; I'll try to propose three.

    The first major issue that I see here is one of communication. Obviously, the parent is having a hard time seeing the connection of the instructional method to that of sports. The teacher should be aware always that they need to be able to justify why they are offering whatever instruction that they are; in this case the "movement education." The teacher needs to find a way to convey to the parent that this type of instruction is beneficial to the overall well-being of the student.

    The second issue that I see is a general misunderstanding on the part of the parent. The study of movement and basic kinesiology is central to success in any sport. This is what the educator should try to impart onto the parent during their conference.

    The third issue that I see that should be raised here is the pre-judgement of the activities on the part of the parent as "silly." The educator should take care to address this issue during the conference; keeping certain to tread lightly in talking with the parent. If parents are better educated as to why an instructor is using a particular method, then many of the communication breakdowns that sometimes happen in education could be helped.

    I could probably also do several paragraphs on the psychological underpinnings of trying to make a three-year-old into a star athlete and the ethics therein; but that would be a different question, I am afraid.

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