Developing character education in physical education and sports : a virtue ethical account
Traditionally Physical Education (PE) and sports in secondary schools in the United Kingdom have aimed towards moral goals. Not all of these goals have been well thought through. Where these goals have been systematically developed, they have followed a narrow and prescriptive conception of moral education that mainly focuses on adherence to predetermined rules and principles. From Aristotle we have a less reductive view of moral education - virtue ethics - which revolves around the development of good character as constituted by the "morally" good person. Drawing on group interviews with exceptional teachers and the writings of virtue ethicists, I develop a sketch of a character education programme that is based on talk and reflection (Pincoffs, 1986), and that cultivates the joyful disposition through direct engagement in sporting activities. Outlining what such a character education in PE and sports might look like, I start by exan-ýining what already exists in terms of "moral practices" within sports themselves (MacIntyre, 1985). Sports traditions aim at developing certain sorts of persons. By talking about and reflecting upon what might constitute a good sportsperson with colleagues, teachers can begin to identify for themselves the sorts of persons they want to see playing sports. Part of playing and teaching sports well is learning to discern between the value of different activities and the company of different sorts of persons. By nurturing and developing certain sorts of dispositions over others, teachers can help pupils shape their own involvement and ethical outlook in PE and sports. Through the cultivation of a joyful disposition teachers can help pupils to develop good character and live flourishing lives. This emphasis on joyfulness also brings into sharper focus what has been previously missing in PE and sports policy documents, namely the significance of an emotional engagement in PE and sports when it comes to educating for good character.