Mosston-Teaching Physical Education

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Teaching Physical Education FIRST ONLINE EDITION, 2008
offers a foundation for understanding the decision-making structures that exist in

all teaching/learning environments. In this thoroughly revised and streamlined edi-
tion, all chapters have been updated to include hundreds of real-world examples,
concise charts, practical forms, and concrete suggestions for "deliberate teaching"
so that the flow of events in teaching can be understood, decision structures can
be analyzed, and adjustments that are appropriate for particular classroom situa-
Teaching Physical
tions can be implemented. The decision structure as it relates to teachers and
learners, the objectives (O-T-L-O) of each teaching style, and the application of
each style to various activities and educational goals are described extensively.


F i r s t O n l i n e E d i t i o n , 2 0 0 8
Praise for Teaching Physical Education, FIRSTONLINEEDITION, 2008
"Wonderful examples of style applications--and plenty of them, the conceptual framework of
the spectrum of teaching styles, the overall organization of the book and its layout--these

strengths definitely make teaching a methods class easier. . . A great book for physical education
teachers who want to expand their teaching style repertoire."

Carol L. Alberts, Ed.D., Hofstra University
"This text provides undergraduate physical education students with a clearly written spectrum
of teaching methods. The text "speaks for itself" so (as the professor) I can guide the student in

practicum experience--not spend the time in the classroom.
Betty A. Block, Georgia College and State University
Muska Mosston
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Teaching Physical
First Online Edition, 2008
Muska Mosston
Sara Ashworth
First Online Edition of Teaching Physical Education, 2008

Second Printing 2010

(c) 2008 Sara Ashworth. All Rights


This online edition is protected by Copyright. This text may be used for research, teaching and private pur-
poses. Any reproduction from the text of more than 600 words in any form for any purposes including, but
not limited to, redistribution, resale or sublicensing is expressly forbidden.
All but two printings of Teaching Physical Education Fifth Edition included accidental textual errors by
the former publishing company. This web text represents a corrected version of Teaching Physical Education

Fifth Edition.

The Spectrum Institute for Teaching and Learning is pleased to make this first online edition of Teaching Phys-
ical Education available to students, teachers, teacher educators and pedagogy scholars via the worldwide web. The
intent of the Spectrum Institute's Director is that this resource will be utilized to improve the teaching of physical
education around the world. Please make proper reference when using this resource. Should you have any ques-
tions as to the text or its use, please contact the copyright holder, Sara Ashworth at
[email protected] or [email protected]


Muska Mosston
192 5 - 19 9 4
This book is dedicated to Muska Mosston.
Born in Israel to Russian immigrants, Muska grew up surrounded
by idealism and a sense of purpose. Life focused on realizing
dreams, creating new opportunities, and participating in all the aspects of
life required for establishing a nation. Muska was a man with myriad inter-
ests; he was a concert violist, a gymnast, a soccer player, a paratrooper, a
champion decathlon athlete, a horseman, a mountain climber. He partici-
pated in what are now termed outward-bound challenge experiences. He
played the harmonica, and he was always a flamboyant personality--rejoic-
ing in life and its opportunities. He graduated with the first class at the
Wingate Institute in Israel; he earned degrees from City College of New
York, a doctorate from Temple University, and an Honorary Doctorate from
the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland. He began teaching physical educa-
tion in the small farming community of Kfar Witkin Israel in the fall of
1945, with sand dunes for his gymnasium and eucalyptus trees for his
equipment! After coming to the United States, he taught physics, geometry,
math, Hebrew, and physical education. He directed summer camps: one for
brain-injured children, another for the blind. He chaired the department of
physical education at Rutgers University and was the first to change the
name of a physical education department to the Department of Kinesiology
& Human Movement. He trained Peace Corps volunteers. He designed play-
ground and physical education equipment that invited inclusion. He had a
television program, Shape-Up, on CBS in New York City for seven years.
He loved physical education and the opportunities it offered for physi-
cal, social, cognitive, ethical, and emotional development. When he saw
children being denied opportunities to think and to move, he became out-
raged, and was exasperated by colleagues who seemingly could not expand


their views of what physical education could be. He was magical with chil-
dren--from top athletes to the most disabled--he would observe children,
identify their strengths, their weaknesses, and then create a spectrum of
developmental opportunities for them to discover themselves and rejoice in
the process of learning. If success was not forthcoming, he would become
engrossed, if not obsessed, in analysis until he could find the missing con-
nection--the conceptual gap that prevented the child from succeeding.
Muska was dedicated to the process of becoming.
He could not think in a haphazard or random fashion--he needed to
know the logical and sequential connections among ideas. This scientific
orientation led him to seek fundamental and universal concepts like those
that form the basis for Developmental Movement and The Spectrum of Teaching
Developmental Movement identifies the fundamental attributes that link
all physical movements, while The Spectrum of Teaching Styles identifies the
underlying structure of the teaching-learning process--decision making. It is
paradoxical that Muska, a person of great energy, charisma, and drama,
would discover two theoretical structures that operate independently of a
teacher's idiosyncrasies. His concepts expand the base of professional
knowledge, and frequently expand the personal boundaries of those who
learn the non-versus paradigm.
Both concepts invite deliberation. Although this emphasis on deliber-
ate, conscious teaching sometimes resulted in unfounded attacks. It was
repeatedly observed by Mosston and this author that the more teachers
demonstrate with fidelity the knowledge of the Spectrum, the more capable
and spontaneous they become in designing beneficial learning experiences.
Muska Mosston fought to advance the theory and practices of physical
education. He was often excluded from active membership in professional
organizations by those who disagreed with his strong opinions on how to
improve physical education. This exclusion did not dissuade him--he merely
shifted his energies to general education and continued to scrutinize the
validity of the Spectrum theory in the total school arena. Years later, invita-
tions from around the world brought Muska back to his first professional
love--physical education. The Spectrum of Teaching Styles has been imple-
mented at all grade levels and in all subject matters. The fact that decision
making is the underlying element that shapes teaching-learning events is no
longer debated.

Preface D E D I C A T I O N
Muska Mosston was a pioneer who discovered a new paradigm about
teaching and learning. I feel honored and grateful to have been Muska's
colleague and friend for 25 years. In the last years of his life, he considered
himself an educational ambassador, spreading the humanitarian message of
the Spectrum and the ideas of the universal concepts of developmental move-
ment across cultural boundaries and political agendas. He profoundly
touched people's lives. He was an inspiration, undaunted by rejection,
faithful to his mission, and dedicated to improving the practices in teaching
and learning.
May his legacy be that he is remembered as the Discoverer of The Spec-
trum of Teaching Styles: From Command to Discovery.
Sara Ashworth, Ed.D.
[email protected]
Spectrum Teaching and Learning Institute

The gap between what we say we want to do and what we are doing
in practice has been and still is the main problem in physical edu-
cation, as it is in many branches of education. I have read numerous cur-
riculum books with their goal taxonomies and subject matter lists, and
cookbook style methodology books, which list different kinds of teaching
methods. Although excellent analyses of goals of physical education can be
found in those books, as well as detailed instructions on how to teach dif-
ferent kinds of activities, the most important issue is lacking: a clear bridge
between goals and actions. When I first read Muska Mosston's book in the
1960's I was charmed by his systematic and clear approach to bridging the
gap between intention and action.
There is substantial consensus among physical education experts that
the field's most important goals are to promote life-long physical activity
and to support the physical, psychological and social development of
school-aged youth. In more concrete terms, these goals mean, among other
things, development of intrinsic motivation for physical activity, strength-
ening the self-concept, learning to take personal responsibility and adopt-
ing cooperative skills. When these kinds of objectives are provided, students
learn to be independent, to make decisions concerning their learning
process, and to feel responsibility for themselves and for others. This is pre-
cisely one of the basic ideas of the Spectrum, namely to shift decision mak-
ing and responsibility, little by little, from teacher to student.
For many years I had the privilege and pleasure of following the fruit-
ful collaboration between Muska Mosston and Sara Ashworth. I learned
how the professional dialogue between these two authors developed the
Spectrum. From the very beginning the Spectrum was for me a strong cog-
nitive, as well as an aesthetic, experience. Just as mathematicians refer to
solutions as beautiful or elegant because of their internal logic, the Spec-
trum is a logically beautiful system. Its logic makes it universal.
That this opinion is not only my personal idea is evidenced by the fact
that the Spectrum has been used in all continents and has been translated
to many languages. This also indicates that Spectrum is not only an Amer-

ican system but it really is universal. After the fourth edition, Sara Ash-
worth very successfully continued developing the beauty and cleanness of
the Spectrum. With the amendments to the fifth edition, Teaching Physical
Education is a book which should belong to and be used by every teacher
trainer and teacher of physical education.
Risto Telama, Professor Emeritus
University of Jyvaskyla
Department of Physical Education
Jyvaskyla, Finland
Teaching Physical Education can change your life as a teacher. It has
mine. It is a book that I've held close through nearly forty years of
teaching. Many ideas about effective teaching can be found within its cov-
ers but, most importantly, it will enable you to better translate your intent
as a teacher into purposeful action.
This book is about The Spectrum of Teaching Styles--a unified theory
of teaching. Any theory attempts to explain a phenomenon based on a set
of principles. In this case, the phenomenon is teaching, and the organizing
principle is that teaching can be defined in terms of decision-making. Other
theories about teaching exist, but none is as intuitive or as elegant as the
Spectrum. You will learn about a continuum, a spectrum, of teaching styles,
each of which is defined by who, teacher or learner, makes which decisions.
Each style is unique in terms of the learning conditions it engenders; yet
each is connected to an integrated whole--a spectrum. You will learn about
the relationship of each style to the three essential elements of any teach-
ing transaction: teacher, learner and content.
In introducing the Spectrum I've used the word elegant advisedly. This
adjective implies richness, grace, and refinement. It implies, simultane-
ously, simplicity and complexity. A spider's web and a snowflake are elegant
structures. As you will see, the Spectrum is indeed elegant. Yet it is also
practical, intuitive, and fundamentally humane. Intuitive in the sense that
it is user-friendly. Humane in the sense that it clarifies and amplifies that

essential human-to-human interaction we call teaching.
As you go through the chapters of this book, each new set of ideas will
fit together to illuminate an emerging vision about effective teaching. As
you complete your initial Spectrum study, you will experience a sense of
understanding and challenge. Try out these ideas in your own teaching and,
as you do, you will feel more and more comfortable with them. Do not be
distracted by the new terminology--these words are explained within
Spectrum theory. Learn them and use them. As you begin this journey, set
aside your assumptions and postpone judgment. Be open to new ideas.
It is important that you understand that teaching style, in Spectrum
terms, has nothing to do with either your interpersonal style or your per-
sonal philosophy. We each can learn to competently utilize each style along
the Spectrum. The concept of "mobility ability" is about the ability of a
teacher to comfortably shift from one teaching style to another to match
changing learner objectives. You should aim to learn and practice all the
styles so you can achieve mobility ability. This mixing and matching of
teaching styles is not only acceptable, it is the hallmark of an effective Spec-
trum teacher.
The Spectrum is a "universal" theory about teaching--it applies to
teaching events. Although written for physical education, the theory is
applicable to all content areas. Indeed, on numerous occasions we have
observed the collegiality of Spectrum teachers from different disciplines, as
they clearly share plans, experiences and triumphs. In my own experience,
whenever I've read or heard about a "new" teaching approach, I've ana-
lyzed it through the Spectrum rubric of "who makes which decisions" and
found that this new approach falls somewhere along the Spectrum. The
Spectrum is universal!
It is also a useful conceptual framework for research on teaching. It
can serve both to organize results and to frame relevant research ques-
tions. In 1973, eminent teaching scholars John Nixon and Larry Locke
described the Spectrum as "the most significant advance in the theory of
physical education pedagogy in recent history" (p. 1227). They called for a
full program of empirical testing. It has been over a quarter century since
that encyclopedia article was written, and dozens of research studies focus-
ing on the Spectrum have been completed. Dr. Mark Byra, an accom-
plished scholar, provides within this book a wonderful review and critique
of Spectrum research to date. Suffice it to say, the Spectrum has undergone
extensive verification and, without equivocation, there is no question of its

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