On the Content and Trends of Modern Physical Education



A.A. Gorelov, professor, Dr.Hab.
R.M. Gadel'shin, senior lecturer
St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg
S.N. Nikitin, professor, Dr.Hab.
National State University of Physical Culture, Sport and Health named after P.F. Lesgaft, St. Petersburg

Key words: physical education teacher, physical culture teacher, trainer in specific sport, physical culture education, kinesiology, antonyms, education in the field of physical culture.

Relevance. The need to review the content, trend, methodology and organization of modern physical education in the XXI century is now so urgent as the question of the status of a modern physical education teacher, physical culture teacher and trainer in particular sport in our society. Unfortunately, we have to state that even before the collapse of the Soviet Union the rating of prestige of this profession was (and remains today) one of the lowest. It is widely believed that specific knowledge and skills are not required to teach motor actions, every more or less educated person is able to teach a teenager to run, jump, throw, “kick the ball” and many other things related to motor activity. There is no need for a long and persistent training of a future teacher, educator, coach for such work. We often hear the following words: “If you are dumb, go study at a physical culture institute”. To be honest, such judgments can be heard from physical culture specialists too. Why does not a specialist, a physical education teacher, a physical culture teacher, a trainer in particular sport have a high rating among all other professions in our society? A list of such questions can be continued for an infinitely long time, but the answers to them should probably be found in the current state of domestic physical culture education that has been undergoing changes since the end of the XIX century.

The purpose of the study was to determine the characteristics of the content and trend of physical education.

Materials and methods. The study method was carried out using review and analysis of scientific sources. The study has been carried out since October 2007 up to now at the Faculty of Physical Culture of Belgorod State National Research University and National State University of Physical Culture, Sport and Health named after P.F. Lesgaft, St. Petersburg. 

Results and discussion. Since 2007 an already traditional international congress “Problems of physical culture education: content, focus, methodology and organization” has been held once in two years organized by efforts of scientists in the sphere of physical culture and sport. During the congress many “burning” issues are discussed [1], solution of which allows for the reconsideration of training of highly qualified, demanded by modern society specialists to represent a new branch of scientific knowledge - kinesiology in the near future [4].

Kinesiology - the science on human movement, which is a specific process and outcome of motor activity, a means and method of enhancement of motor skills by people to fulfill their social responsibilities [4].

Speaking of kinesiology as a rapidly developing field of physical culture, integrating into a coherent whole scientific knowledge of biology, psychology, biomechanics, pedagogy, anthropology and other sciences, it should be understood that it already has a clear outline of the direction of formation, analysis, knowledge, design and planning of motor tasks in terms of age kinesiology, sports kinesiology, applied kinesiology, kinesiotherapy.

Thanks to such outstanding scientists as V.K. Bal’sevich and V.B. Korenberg, the term «kinesiology» has already been long and quite effectively functioning in the sphere of physical culture and sport. Fundamental works of the above authors will allow to form a new academic discipline for both professional and non-special physical culture education that will be generally called kinesiology, already in the next generation of federal state educational standards (FSES).   We will not dwell on the semantic content of the term, but rather denote our stand based on the views of Professor V.B. Korenberg [3].

In the 60s of the last century he became convinced of the irrationality, insufficiency and unproductiveness of many important psychological and pedagogical concepts and ideas for motor activity analysis. According to him, … «motor activity is based not only on physical abilities, but also on mental ones, on figurative modeling (of individual objects of reality and all objective reality, of changes of objective reality as a whole and its components, control of our current, past and upcoming activity and its results), assessment of formed models and their actualization» [5]. His proclaimed point of view allows more logical and effective creation of terminology of motor activity that we consider from the perspective of his motor-functional properties concept (somatic, motor-somatic, psycho-motor-somatic and psychomotor) [5]. Development, operation and improvement of these qualities in a certain way fills the conceptual block of the physical culture system that forms the goal or the end result, determines ways to achieve it by means of problem solving, forms the principles of human motor development in ontogenesis.

An outstanding domestic scientist whose name is borne by one of the oldest physical culture tertiary establishments in the world, P.F. Lesgaft, noted at the end of the XIX century [5]: «The issue of physical education is so important that requires the most careful study and analysis». At the end of the ХIХ century a new trend of physical education came into being due to efforts of P.F. Lesgaft - educational. Rejecting common views of that time of physical education as a process of recreational effect on humans, he strictly distinguished between the concepts of «physical mentoring» and «physical education». Considering the man in the unity of all his manifestations, P.F. Lesgaft pointed out the existence of a deep connection between general, physical and mental education [5]. Based on the polysemy of the concepts «education» and «mentoring», P.F. Lesgaft considered «physical education» as a kind of a component of the general education system, and «mentoring» as a pedagogical process carried out in the conditions of educational institutions and organizations while solving some mentoring issue - formation of certain character traits.

Many authors of the time used the term «education» to refer to the entire range of personal development areas. P.F. Lesgaft held the same point of view understanding this term not only as conscious acquisition of certain knowledge and motor skills, but also formation of a person’s worldview, thinking, will power, moral, aesthetic and other feelings, character, body shape, muscle strength [5].

Beginning of the XXI century considerably strengthened the process of reorganization of the content of physical culture education - a new federal law «On Physical Culture and Sport» was passed, work on improvement of educational standards is underway, the structure of physical culture professions is changing, their range is broadening, alternative educational establishments come into being. At the same time, as pointed out in our previous works [1], high school science mainly focuses on the formation of academic knowledge, while professional knowledge remains a kind of appendage to fundamental education. Graduates of physical culture tertiary establishments and especially faculties of physical culture at classical universities start their career without proper education in many disciplines that form the qualitative framework of our profession. Let’s compare, for example, the content and scope of biomedical unit of physical culture education of National State University of Physical Culture, Sport and Health named after P.F. Lesgaft, St. Petersburg and any faculty of physical culture at a classical university. In the structure of National State University of Physical Culture, Sport and Health named after P.F. Lesgaft, St. Petersburg, only biomedical educational unit includes six departments that form specialized knowledge in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, biomechanics, sports medicine and hygiene. Faculty education only has a department of biomedical foundations of physical education that of course cannot cover the whole spectrum of knowledge needed by a modern physical culture specialist in the industry. The same situation takes place in other educational units that form professional knowledge and skills. A question arises whether it is possible to equalize graduates of these tertiary institutions by their level of professional training? As they say, the situation speaks for itself.

By the end of the ХХ – beginning of the ХХI century the concept of «physical education» started gradually transforming into «physical culture education», the original word for the creation of which was the abbreviated name of «physical culture». A very important factor served as a reason for it - the term «physical education» became very popular in natural sciences and was used to refer to education in the field of physics, i.e. two antonyms were born, and that can eventually lead to quite a serious confusion.  Time has come to determine the final term, and it can be nothing but «physical culture education». Many researches have proposed to replace the term «physical education» with the concept of «education in the sphere of physical culture». In our opinion this is hardly correct either.

Supporters of educational trend [3] read an unambiguous meaning into the concept of «physical culture education», one that corresponds to the internal logic of the conceptual scheme of P.F. Lesgaft’s doctrine. Physical culture education is seen by them as a conscious process of influence of physical exercises onto a person to form motor skills, as an ability to control, analyze, create motor actions, as facilitation of «development of a rational person». «The task of the general physical education, - P.F. Lesgaft pointed out, - can only be to teach a young person to act consciously and verify his/her mental activity» [5]. Considering the man in the unity of all his manifestations, P.F. Lesgaft stressed: «Man differs from animals by his ability to differentiate, and therefore the more developed and educated he is, the more he is able to analyze phenomenon, differentiate and compare them to one another. At the same time general education, mental and physical, is closely connected: one complements the other, one cannot exist without the other» [5]. P.F. Lesgaft’s expressed ideas that methods of analysis, synthesis and comparison necessary in mental education can also be successfully applied in physical education give grounds to recognize them as the beginning of the fundamental concepts of modern methodology in the sphere of modern physical culture education.

Conclusions. "Physical" or "physical culture education" is a narrower concept than "education in the sphere of physical culture" (kinesiology) and includes only those data, subjects and disciplines that deal specifically with physical culture and its kinds. But the concept of "education in the sphere of physical culture" (kinesiology) covers a fairly wide range of disciplines of natural and exact sciences, humanities, medico-biological and other sciences. This promoted within the developed problem focusing on the definition of "physical education", formulated in the journal "Teoriya i praktika fizicheskoy kultury" in the paper by N.A. Karpushko, V.V. Prikhod'ko, L.I. Lubysheva and agree with him.


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