Framing Physical Education In Greek Public Schools

Por: Constantine Emmanouel, Dimitrios Chatziharistos e Konstantin Kougioumtzis.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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During recent years physical education (PE) in Greek public schools has been subject to continuous debates mainly focusing on legitimate PE content and appropriate methods of teaching. Without ignoring the importance of such topics we suggest a turn towards aspects of the macro level of school PE and more specifically towards aspects of the framing of school PE [1]. This study focuses on the influence of pupils, curriculum, facilities and available time on the formation of PE lessons (lesson content, activity sequencing, degree of difficulty in exercises and forms of work) in relation to PE teachers’ age (AGE), sex (SEX) and educational level (EDU). Furthermore, we studied the differences between primary and secondary education (STAGE) as well as between the various strata (STRATA).


Drawing from the theory of pedagogic discourse as proposed by Bernstein [1,2] a 5-Likert-scaled questionnaire has been developed to describe aspects of the framing of school PE. Discussions with scholars and teachers as a minor pilot study have been adopted in order to improve the validity and reliability of the instrument. The improved version has been sent to 600 stratified randomly sampled primary and secondary schools with PE teachers as the final receivers. The final sample consisted of 449 PE teachers.

Table 1. Means: The formation of PE lessons and selected sources of influence

Factors Primary Schools Secondary Schools
Big City City Town Village Tot Big City City Town Village Tot
Pupils 2.45 2.52 2.55 2.73 2.56 2.46 2.50 2.61 2.63 2.57
Curriculum 3.85 3.95 3.92 3.94 3.92 3.57 3.96 4.03 4.06 3.92
Facilities 3.13 3.19 3.12 3.47 3.22 3.62 3.26 3.36 3.29 3.37
Time 2.63 2.78 2.72 2.76 2.72 2.96 2.82 2.91 2.66 2.84

Probabilities: All means are statistically significant (p< .001). No statistically significant differences among the various categories.

Table 2. PE-teachers characteristics and the strength of a selected factor: Pupils.

Source Summary table for ANOVA (Main Effects)
SS df MS F Sig
AGE 30.579 33 .927 2.082 .001
SEX 2.444 1 2.444 5.492 .020
EDU 3.746 4 .936 2.104 .080
STAGE .461 1 .461 1.036 .309
STRATA 1.126 3 .375 .843 .471
Error 146.433 329 .445
Corrected Total 192.695 371
R Squared = .240 (Adjusted R Squared = .140)

Discussion / Conclusions

1. The "Greek body" of PE teachers in primary and secondary schools seems to be a relative homogeneous group with quite good curriculum discipline. The influence of pupils mainly in secondary education is obvious low. The standard of facilities is not considered as the most critical point. The available teaching time is not perceived as highly problematic.

2. Class democracy as indicated by the influence of pupils in the formation of lessons is considered to be a matter of PE teachers’ age, sex and educational level and not a matter of educational stage. This finding indicates that the instructional discourse (e.g. good performance) and not the regulative discourse (e.g. functioning good in a group) characterize PE in Greek public schools. Studies on vocational school subjects in other European countries have shown the opposite tendencies [2]. This differentiation could be caused by the specific cultural conditions that shape various educational phenomena in Greece [3,4]. With cohesion policies (EC) in mind we call for comparative studies.


  1. Bernstein, B. (1990). The structuring of pedagogic discourse, London, Routledge.
  2. Bernstein, B. (1996). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity, London, Taylor & Francis.
  3. Benincasa, L. (1997). A Journey, a Struggle, a Ritual. Stockholm, IIE.
  4. Yang, Y. (2003). Measuring socioeconomic status... A cross-country comparison. Gothenburg, ACTA.



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