The Value of Performance in Physical Education Teacher Education

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The current philosophical paradigm in higher education, where theory transcends practice, consigns physical education to the bottom of a hierarchy of educational content (Kretchmar, 2005). Leaders of physical education teacher education programs are left with three difficult choices: (a) accept physical education’s lowly position in the hierarchy, (b) emphasize the theory and science of physical activity and teaching to make the program appear academically respectable, or (c) argue for a different philosophical paradigm (Kretchmar, 1996). I contend the final option is the best strategy. Using John Dewey’s philosophy of experience and conception of human intelligence, I argue that skillful performance of dance, games, play, and sport should maintain a more prominent position in physical education teacher education curricula because skillful performance of the content represents a legitimate domain of human activity worthy of significant involvement in an academic program. Also, pre-service teachers need content knowledge derived authentically from the process of becoming skillful performers to teach physical education. Suggestions for activity performance coursework are offered.