Multicultural competence refers to the ability to work effectively with a variety of different types of people (Gill and Williams, 2008). As a physical education teacher, I don’t have control of the types of students I am going to be assigned, therefore it is very important that I have the ability to work with and relate to all different types of people. It is also important I be able to cater to them individually and develop activities that will allow each of the students to gain the most out of my class. My goals are to promote health and well-being to each of my students while helping them understand the benefits of physical activity and exercise. I want to reach each student personally and assess them individually so I can be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Age, sex, ethnicity, and overall personal background are all important when organizing class activities.
Trying to incorporate multicultural competence in the workplace goes beyond just myself and my students. The overall goal is to really get to know my students and understand them fully inside and out. Cultural competence is “the ability of an individual to understand and respect values, attitudes, beliefs, and mores that differ across cultures, and to consider and respond appropriately to these differences in planning, implementing, and evaluating health education and promotion programs and interventions” (the Joint Commission on Health Education and Promotion Terminology, p. 5). When putting class activities together my focus will be both on individual and group play. Each student will take a series of physical tests such as a 100 yard dash and push-ups in one minute. Throughout the school year they will be able to try and beat their own record; and when they do they will receive mini-prizes. I also want to incorporate competition within the physical education setting. I can split the class up into different “types” of groups each day, while addressing a different focus. Each group will have different goals and will compete against the other groups in the class. I want to structure the class around their needs, desires, and overall ability; and understanding their different attitudes and beliefs can influence how the students will responds to my activities. Research has suggested that within a group setting, such as an exercise facility, diversity with respect to members’ demographic backgrounds can have a powerful effect on performance of the individual (Pelled, 1996).
Working within a physical education setting I have a responsibility to focus my class activities on promoting physical activity and exercise as a lifestyle, and not just something they have to do in school. In 1992, the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) published content standards calling for physical education programs to develop the "physically educated person" (NASPE, 1992, 2004). These standards defined this person as someone who achieved and maintained a health-enhancing level of physical activity, thus establishing the promotion of lifetime physical activity as the primary outcome of physical education. NASPE standards have shaped the physical education programs of today, resulting in considerable research and fueling attempts to define the role of physical education in public health. Studies have consistently indicated that this role is providing experiences that will lead to increased adult physical activity, an outcome reinforced by multiple researchers and organizations (Sallis & McKinzie, 1991). Every physical education educator needs this quality background so they can pass their knowledge onto their students.
At a 1923 conference, physical education leaders set guidelines that included putting athletes first, preventing exploitation, downplaying competition while emphasizing enjoyment and good sporting behavior, and promoting activity for all rather than an elite few (Gill and Williams, 2008). This statement points out the importance of enjoyment in sports and physical activity and just basically having fun. Not worrying about winning and losing and whose team you’re on will allow a better overall experience. If we as physical educators want to provide and environment that will allow growth for all our students, we need to be open to adjusting activities to fit the needs of everyone. As stated earlier, my primary focus is to promote positive health and well-being to all of my students. In doing this, hopefully they will encounter “real life” experiences and be able to take what they have learned with them. Diversity is not always looked at on a deep level; however it is necessary to be aware of boys vs. girls, blacks vs. whites, old vs. young, etc. We don’t mean to, but we do stereotype. Therefore, focusing on each student as an individual and teaching them how to integrate with others will hopefully prepare them for the “real world.”
Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.).
: Human Kinetics. Champaign, IL
Joint commission on health education and promotion terminology. (2002). Report of the 2000 joint committee on health education and promotion terminology. Journal of School Health, 72(1), 3-7.
McKenzie, T. L., Alcaraz, J. E., & Sallis, J. F. (1994). Assessing children's liking for activity units in an elementary school physical education curriculum. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 13, 206-215.
National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2004). Moving into the future: National standards for physical education (2nd ed.).
: Author. Reston, VA
National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (1992). Outcomes of quality physical education programs.
: Author. Reston, VA
Pelled, L. (1996). Demographic diversity, conflict, and work group outcomes: An intervening process theory. Organization Science, 7(6), 615-631.