Olympic/ism Education: Does it have a place in Physical Education?


  • Kirsten Petrie Te Huataki Waiora Faculty of Health, Sport and Human Performance The University of Waikato (New Zealand)


Olympism Education, Olympic Education, Physical Education, Curriculum


Founder of the modern Olympic Movement Pierre de Coubertin espoused the educational value of sport and the centrality of pedagogy in “building a peaceful and better world†(International Olympic Committee, 2015, p. 17). How this is translated into educational programmes and practices has been interpreted differently, with some variation between Olympic Education and Olympism education. Understanding the points of difference is an important part of considering how Olympism as a philosophy can inform educational endeavours, and as Culpan and McBain (2012) argue, influence the role Olympism can play in helping to legitimise physical education (PE) in schools. Drawing on the context of Aotearoa New Zealand, I explore how Olympism education has been used to frame curriculum policy in PE and to what extend this has and has not impacted on practice. This analysis is then used to argue against positioning Olympism education as the key to raising the quality and relevance of PE in schools, as it has the potential to add to the layers of confusion that already exist for teachers grappling with PE curriculum. In conclusion, I argue instead that as a community of educators we should turn our attention to the role Olympism education has in ensuring sport, particularly for youth, is practised in line with the Olympic ideals and the aims of Olympism espoused by de Coubertin.

Author Biography

Kirsten Petrie, Te Huataki Waiora Faculty of Health, Sport and Human Performance The University of Waikato (New Zealand)

Dr Kirsten Petrie is the Acting Dean of Te Huataki Waiora Faculty of Health, Sport and Human Performance, at The University of Waikato, Hamilton, Aotearoa New Zealand. Kirsten has published and presented widely on health and physical education in primary schools, on matters relating to teacher development, curriculum and policy, and the impact of external providers. Her research demonstrates a commitment to innovative and collaborative research with colleagues in university and school settings, with a view actively changing policy and practice.