Pre-service Primary Teacher Perceptions of Health

By Janet Lynne Currie and Lesley Ljungdahl.

Published by The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning

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The development of usable, realistic health and living skills education programs is essential in today's world. These programs are imperative for the health, well-being and personal development of all school aged children. One objective of teacher training in health education is to develop the knowledge and skills required for the planning and implementation of effective school programs. However, what are the beliefs of the student pre-service teacher regarding her / his notions of health? While it is expected that future classroom teachers have sound health literacy skills relating to the knowledge, attitudes, and skills required to maintain health, little research has been undertaken. This paper presents results of qualitative research exploring pre-service primary school teachers' (n=133) perspectives of health. Findings revealed five main themes to emerge defining health as (a) a state of health; (b) health as wellbeing; (c) components or dimensions of health; (d) lifestyle practices; and (e) health as a physical concept. As a consequence of the survey's findings and in consideration of the new national curriculum, future adjustments incorporated into our teacher training will include taking a strengths-based approach to teaching about health, recognising that all young people have particular strengths and building on these, develop positive attitudes and avoid a risk-based behaviour change model; further development of health literacy skills for selectively accessing and critically analysing health information required to help solve or find help for an identified range of health issues or problems; and increasing understanding of the social construction of health and the influence of a range of individual, interpersonal, organisational, community, environmental and policy influences.
The responses have also determined that a greater emphasis will need to be placed on prevention and the reduction of health inequalities in the promotion of health.

Keywords: Health Education, Health Literacy, Perceptions, Teacher Training

The International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp.59-67. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 320.229KB).

Dr. Janet Lynne Currie

Senior Lecturer, Learning Cultures and Practices, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Currie has a background in school teaching, university lecturing, community health promotion, and health policy. She has qualifications in education and health promotion. Her research interests focus on investigating the perceived benefits of participation in leisure and physical activity, health promotion policy, marketing and promotion of healthy lifestyles, and social and emotional well-being. She has designed numerous educational materials in the area of health promotion and exercise including books, videos, teacher, and community resources. She is currently involved in creating effective health education messages designed for young males in the school classroom setting, using sport as the key focus. She is a past National President, Vice-President and State representative of the Australian Health Promotion Association. She is a director of Health Education and Promotion International. She was awarded the Outstanding Community Engagement Award (Australian Catholic University) in 2003.

Dr. Lesley Ljungdahl

Course Coordinator, Senior Lecturer, Learning Cultures and Practices, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Ljungdahl has taught in schools in London, Australia, and worked as a teacher and librarian in Canada. She has presented papers in the area of literacy and ESOL at conferences in Baltimore, California, Chicago, and New York. Her main areas of interest are in TESOL, TEFL and literacy / learning-related issues, as well as international studies with a focus on the People’s Republic of China. She has regularly participated in overseas practicums in Kunming, PRC and Apia, Western Samoa. She is a past-president of ATESOL (NSW), the Association for Teachers of English as a Second or Other Languages. From 1989 - 1995 she was the director of the Student Learning Centre on the Kuring-gai Campus of UTS. She has presented papers at conferences in Beijing, London, Havana, and Granada. She has been a visiting scholar at both Macquarie University and Sydney University.