In Slovenian school system they have three levels of classes. The first level is the grades between 1 and 3, the second between 4 and 6 and the third level is for the grades between 7 and 9. In the first two levels children will have physical education three hours per week. That makes 105 hours in a year. In the first level 20 hours of these 105 must be swimming. So this skill is learned in the first grades at school which is a good thing in my opinion. In the third level children will have physical education less than in the first two levels. In the 7th and 8th grades they have physical education 70 hours per year and in the 9th grade 64 hours. Altogether Slovenian pupils will have physical education 834 hours at school. In addition to that in every year children must have five sports days at school. In those days they are doing only sports at school. At least two of those sports days must be hiking.
In Polish school the system is a little bit different and more complicated. Polish school system have four stage of classes In the first grade children will have physical education in total four hours per week. This means that normally they have three hours per week in the first grade and also in the second grade so in one year they will have 105 hours of sports. The swimming lessons are also in the first two years but they have not given any particular number of the lessons which teachers should teach for children. Usually it depends on the curriculum of the school and how far the nearest swimming bath is. The next two stages between four and nine they will have sports in total 12 hours per week.
This makes 4 hours per week in every year and in total about 140 hours in each year. In the last three grades between ten and twelve children will have physical education in total 9 hours per week. This makes also 105 hours in each year. When we count all the grades together we can see that Polish children have physical education about 1470 hours in 12 years. In Poland we don’t have requirements about how many sports days we should have in one year. The school has the decision for that. Normally those sports days are like playing different games in the schoolyard. But I think that Slovenian system for sport days is good because those days are funny and exciting for pupils but also for teachers. Normally they don’t organize so many sports days in Poland because it is not obligatory. In this way like you do in Slovenia we could have more sports days in Poland.
As you can see in the Figure 1 they have more physical education in Poland than in Slovenia. The biggest differences are in the last three grades when Slovenian children have sports education 204 hours per week and Finnish children 140 hours per week. It is two hour less in a week but in one year it makes a huge difference. In Poland there is a big conversation going on about the hours per week for physical education and for other subjects. Some people want to increase the hours per week for physical education and the others want to give those “extra lessons” for example for math and reading. I think amount of hours in Poland its good but we should more concentrate about quality of the lesson , way of teaching.
Physical education is realy important for children’s health and they can learn many different skills in sports class. I think that the increase of physical education lessons could be also like having more sports days during a school year. Children want to play and move and physical education is the only possibility to offer them a chance for that. A big different is that in Poland We have a fourth stage of Education, because Minister of Education introduced Gymnasium in 2009.It was working in the past very well , but now everyone know that’s was wrong idea. Its maybe to late and expensive to change this again.
Voluntary physical education
I found out that in Slovenia schools must organize also some voluntary sports for children. Children and parents can choose if children want to join those activities but for schools it is obligatory to offer them. These voluntary sports for children can be for example after-school sports, sports with personal assistance and between 4th and 6th grades sports in the nature. This could be swimming or different games outdoors. Parents have the decision if their child will take part of these activities.
In Poland it is not obligatory to organize these things, except sports with assistance. We want that children have equal chances to take part of the physical education classes so that is why we have assistants and some assistive technology at school if there is a child with special needs in the class. Schools can also organize after-school sports and sports in the nature if they want. It depends a lot on resources of the school and if teachers have time and energy for that. I have heard that in my school where I studied as a child a physical education teacher is organizing after-school sports for children on his own nowadays. It is very nice to hear that children have now chance to move after school.
The schools in Slovenia also have a chance to organize some other sport activities if they want. It is not obligatory but I think all sports which school can offer are only for pupils’ best. Schools can offer for example “minute sports” which means that they will have about 5 minutes sport break during a lesson and make some basic moves. In my opinion this is a good way to keep children fresh and motivated to schooling. They can also have before-school sports and organized exercises between the lessons.
I don’t know how common this is in Slovenia but at least in Poland I haven’t heard about these kinds of activities. Normally children can do whatever they like between the lessons. Some of them use these breaks for playing football or basketball but unfortunately many of them don’t do anything in breaks. That is why many schools are putting lots of money to buy some sport equipment and play stands in the schoolyard. This “minute sports” idea sounds very good because sometimes children are tired at school and then it is good to have some exercises to make them to freshen up.
Contents of physical education
In every subject children need to start with the basics. Also in physical education. In Polish and Slovenian physical education classes it is typical that in the first grades children will practice a lot basic motor skills. It is important to learn them in the first years at school. In Poland it is also common that children learn also some usual social skills in physical education which they will need in the future. What I have heard about Slovenian physical education, in the first three grades they practice basic movement skills like jumping, running and throwing. In addition to that children also do some gymnastics, athletics, swimming, dancing, winter sports and some ball games basics in the first three grades. I heard that the most popular sport at school is definitely football in Slovenia. Anyway, children are usually eager to practice and that is why they also learn very fast. Children have big differences between motor skills in the first years at school. After couple years the differences are not so big anymore.
After third grade the standards are getting higher in Slovenia. The gymnastics moves are a little bit harder and in ball games like football and basketball children are learning more skills but also rules of these games. Physical education classes include the same topics like in the first classes but everything is harder. The same trend continues in the grades between seven and nine. The education is more detailed and pupils play ball games with normal rules, not with applied rules anymore.
In Poland the contents of physical education are mostly the same. Polish national curriculum says that in the grades between one and four it is important to use plays while teaching physical education for pupils. Children love to play so this is a natural way to move and learn. I have experienced that it is easy to motivate children to play if teacher is also excited about the activities. Teacher needs to use imagination and sometimes even the craziest and funniest ideas are the most liked among children. After the fourth grade plays are not so important anymore in physical education in Poland but teacher cannot forget them totally. Between 4th and 12th grades pupils will learn more about different sports and also have a chance to try varied sports. The most important thing is to maintain pupils’ interest in sport. That is why teacher must remember to take care of social aspects in physical education too.
I have found one interesting difference between physical education lessons in Poland and Slovenia. Here in Slovenia I have realized that stretching is much more common in Slovenia than in Poland. Here in Slovenia almost every physical education lesson has started with short warm-up game and after than some stretching exercises. For me this is new because in Poland we don’t use stretching so much. It is clever to stretch before physical exercises because of trying to avoid injuries. In Poland we concentrate more in proper warm-up. We think that children can avoid injuries if they have a good warm-up at the beginning of the lesson. We can skip stretching and still avoid injuries at school. Anyway stretching is not totally lacking in Polish physical education classes. It is sometimes used in the lessons but normally the goal is to teach children the most common and useful stretching moves which they can use in the future. Children should know the importance of stretching and its effects on your body.
The goals of physical education in Slovenia
According to my resources in Slovenia they have quite similar goals for physical education like in Poland. I understood that you can divide those goals into main goals, basic goals and personal goals. This is maybe not the best way to translate them but for me it is easy to understand the goals this way. There are just few differences between the goals in Poland and Slovenia and I think that both countries could learn something from each other.
In Poland curriculum the main goals for physical education are that children are equal in physical education class, they will get excited and motivated in sports and that they have a chance to develop themselves. These goals are very important and they can be goals for any subject. Equality is one of the biggest goals also in Polish schools in general. Every child is different and has different level of skills.
In Slovenian curriculum it is said that we have to offer equal chances to learn for talented and not so talented children. In Poland we make lots of effort to help children with learning problems and I think that is why we sometimes forget to give feedback and offer enough challenges for the talented children. They also need help and chances to develop themselves and especially to stay motivated. If they are always ignored they can lost their interest in sports. In Slovenia there are actually three different skill levels for children in physical education. Children can choose the level which fits best his or her skills and then do sports in that particular level. The evaluation differs from each level too.
The basic goals of Slovenian physical education are quite similar than main goals. I think that they could actually form one bigger group of goals. The first goal of basic goals is to respond to the children’s needs of moving and playing. That is also a big goal in Polish physical education. It is natural for children to move and play so school must offer them a chance for that. Especially young children love to play and have fun. I think that children cannot just sit at school. They need more. That is why physical education has a big role because it is so different from all the other subjects.
The second basic goal is that children will develop versatile motor skills at school. Good stamina is important part but not the only one. The aim is that children will have better balance, flexibility and speed for example. The last basic goals are that children will understand the importance of physical activity and feel enjoying doing sports. We can category those goals into cognitive and emotional goals for physical education. In Poland these things are also very important.
For me personal goals in Slovenian physical education are more like guidelines for single physical education lessons. I think that those personal goals are easier to put into practice than main goals which are quite huge and more like main points. These personal goals are physical condition, basic motor skills, understanding the importance of physical activity, pleasure and safety issues.
Season periods in Poland and Slovenia
In my opinion Slovenia has quite a similar situation with periods like Poland. We have opportunity to go out during the summer and spring , sometimes in autumn . Of course it also depends a lot on the place where we are in Slovenia. Winter sports start earlier in Maribor than other parts of the country and for example in Koper it is not so easy to go to ski. In comparison with Poland in Slovenia there are very good possibilities for alpine skiing. The Alps are very near so there are lots of hills and mountains which offer possibilities to ski. In Poland we have also mountains names Tatry but not so high but still worth to skiing , hiking. In the south we have much for slopes. Poland it’s a much bigger country but we had the mountains just on norh. I have been in Slovenia almost four months now and I have realized that Slovenians love alpine skiing. I didn’t know that before but when I talked with some Slovenian people about skiing I noticed that we were talking about different sport.
I was talking about cross-country skiing and Slovenians about alpine skiing. I think that for most of Polish people “skiing” is cross-country skiing but for Slovenians it is alpine skiing. That is why I have to tell which one I’m talking about when I use the word “skiing”. It is a funny thing to see that other countries have their own favourite sports.. It is a good way for everyone to get a better stamina .In general I think that in Slovenia you can have physical education lessons outdoors longer than in Poland. That is a good think in my opinion because I think that children and teenagers spend too much time indoors nowadays with computers and PlayStations. That is why physical education lessons outside are a good way to make children interested in being outdoors also. I don’t know so much what they usually do outdoors but I heard that football is easily the most popular sport at school. So I don’t think that outdoor sports are so different in Slovenia if you compare them to Poland.
Goals and evaluation belong together in physical education. At first we have to know the goals of the single lesson or one semester so that we can evaluate a pupil and his or her performance at school. Evaluation should be equal for all the children and make them motivated to learn and try more.
According to Slovenian curriculum of physical education the main point of evaluation is developing. The aim is to compare the level at the beginning of semester with the level which children will approach by the end of the semester. There are also different standard levels for talented and not so talented children. That is how children will have exactly the right standard level in evaluation. In Poland we don’t have different standard levels for children but we also appreciate the development of children’s performance. Also the social skills and development of them is a big factor in evaluation. Focusing on a development in evaluation is in my opinion an equal way to act. That is because talented pupils cannot get good grades automatically but they have to practice also and do the best they can. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you always have something to develop. That is why it is motivating for talented pupils too. Teacher must remember to encourage all the children to try hard and develop their skills in multiple ways.
In Poland there is a trend that they try to make pupils able to evaluate their own performance. This is like practicing cognitive skills because pupils are reflecting their own actions. A child will benefit about that because he or she needs to monitor his or her performance also in other subjects. Teacher cannot always be there saying him or her that what he or she does well and what not. A child has to learn to realize his or her strengths and weaknesses and try to find the ways to develop them. The aim is that a child tries to analyze the performance and make the changes which need to be done. Of course the teacher is there to help them if needed. This could be like setting questions or using pair work when pairs can help each other and give some feedback. Then you can also reach those social goals.
I don’t see testing like a part of evaluation but it can be a good way to motivate children and show them how they are doing in physical education. But I think there can be also opposite opinions about the motivating effect of physical tests. Some pupils can feel shamed and depressed if they are not succeeding in these tests. In Poland testing pupils’ physical skills and capacity is not really popular..
I was very surprised when I heard that they have in Slovenia a wide testing system for all the children. It has been in use about 40 years now. The main idea of this system is to test all the children every year in various types of physical capacity. These types are for example motor skills, long jump, coordination, flexibility and body mass index. After all test they will get thorough information about physical capacity of Slovenian pupils. The results are useful to see how a child is developing in a particular area. It is also possible to compare one pupil’s results to the average results of the whole Slovenia. That is how pupils and parents will get information about pupil’s capacity and maybe about the areas which needs more work.
The most I’m worried about those pupils who don’t like sports and are not so good at it. Negative results from tests are not a conclusion in this situation in my opinion.
I don’t know so much about teacher education in Slovenia but I checked that in Slovenia students who will be elementary school teachers must study two subjects of physical education. But I think that there is also possibility to study more physical education in Slovenia. Because of my limited knowledge of Slovenian teacher education system I will present teacher education system only in Poland.
In the first two years in the university students will study an obligatory subject of physical education. In this subject students will get basic guidelines and knowledge to teach physical education in elementary school. This obligatory subject is normally very practical and student will get advice to organize the learning environment in physical education class. It is also possible to take extra courses to get more knowledge and skills to teach sports in elementary school. If you want to teach physical education in secondary school or high school you must study courses in the faculty of sports . The studies in the faculty of sports give student lots of information and practice how to organize physical education at school.
Students will learn lots of things about pedagogy, didactics and learning processes for example. The main goals are that students are able to organize effective and motivating climate in physical education class and have knowledge to go further in teaching motor skills for pupils. Teachers won’t be only experts of sports but also experts of wellbeing. Also studies about special education in sports are included in these studies.