Applying Ecological Dynamics to Physical Education with Peter Verdin: EMP Podcast 38
In our last three podcast episodes, we’ve gone a long way towards explaining why it’s important for humans to approach motor learning and skill acquisition from a standpoint of ecological dynamics.
The human organism is an incredibly complex system of systems and for millions of years we’ve learned skills primarily by means of environmental necessity. If a problem or an opportunity arises, our survival could hinge on our ability to adapt and overcome the situation.
This adaptability is one of our greatest powers and it exists in us to this day.
Compared to this, the advent of instructors, coaches and learning facilities is relatively new to us. While coaching and instruction are absolutely invaluable at certain times and certain places, it is a major mistake when we completely abandon task constrained learning and unstructured play.
Unfortunately this isn’t how the vast majority of our modern physical education programs approach movement and motor learning.
The emphasis on competitive team sports and reductionist fitness training has constricted the scope of what can be achieved and developed through movement practice. While everyone is affected by this, it is especially damaging to children.
As young children, the vast majority of our fundamental skills and abilities are learned through play.
When kids are allowed to play on their own, they not only develop physical capacities like strength, balance, and coordination, they also are learning social skills like negotiation, communication, self inhibition, altruism, and empathy.
This kind of play is also highly therapeutic and important for regulating anti-social behavior. Yet we are seeing more and more restrictions on both the amount and the types of play that kids are given access to.
Schools are consistently cutting down on recess time, creating strict anti-risky play rules, and funneling more, younger kids into organized competitive team sports.
As this problem persists, we’re seeing the damages more and more clearly as children grow into adults who are highly adverse to social situations, unable to take risks (or maybe worse, unable to recognize risks), unable to regulate aggression, and who are socially emotionally illiterate.
At EMP we believe that one of the most important things we can work towards is a complete restructuring of the physical education system. That’s why we are so excited to have Peter Verdin as a guest on the Evolve Move Play Podcast today.
Peter is a host at The Other Literacies Podcast, he’s also a movement engineer at Future Public Schools where he is using principles from parkour, natural movement, and ecological dynamics to build a better physical education system for his elementary-school-aged students.
His work is proving that with the right knowledge and experience, you can implement an effective program for instructing classes of 30+ students in a manner that is engaging and congruent with their natural learning processes.
00:00 – Intro
04:07 – The Other Literacies
15:38 – Movement Nutrition
20:58 – Play Literacy
33:09 – Structured and Unstructured Play
48:13 – Social Emotional Learning
01:03:04 – The Task Constrained Curriculum
01:12:15 – The History of Physical Education
Learn More About Peter:
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