Pre-service primary teacher perceptions of health

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Journal Article
International Journal of Adult, Community and Professional Learning, 2013, 19 (1), pp. 59 - 67
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© Common Ground, Janet Lynne Currie and Lesley Ljungdahl. 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.
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