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Attitudes and Values: Olympic Ideals in Physical Education

This is the online version of the book Attitudes and Values: Olympic Ideals in Physical Education, one of the Curriculum in Action series. Attitudes and Values: Olympic Ideals in Physical Education supports the implementation of Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999) by providing teachers with ideas for planning units of work to meet the identified learning needs of students. Attitudes and Values: Olympic Ideals in Physical Education includes some background information on the Olympic ideals in physical education. It suggests ways in which Sport Studies programmes that focus on the Olympic ideals can provide opportunities for students to:

Students could take part in such programmes at any time of any year, including times that coincide with the Olympic Games.

There are various views of the role of sport in educating the whole person and contributing to society. This resource supports the view that sport can be used to teach and learn social and cultural values and attitudes. It is a view that is fundamental both to the Olympic ideals and to Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999).

Olympism (Olympic Ideals)

By blending sport with culture and education, Olympism promotes a way of life based on:

  • the balanced development of the mind, body and character – hauora
  • the joy found in effort – te harikoa ka puta ake i te hekenga werawera
  • the educational value of being a good role model for others – te pai o te kaiako pono
  • observing the universal ethics of
  • tolerance – rangimārie, kia ngawari
  • generosity – ohaoha, manaakitanga
  • unity – kotahitanga
  • friendship – hoatanga
  • non-discrimination – manakohanga
  • and respect for others – whakanuitanga.

Why provide opportunities to learn about attitudes and values that relate to the Olympic ideals in physical education?

The New Zealand Curriculum Framework emphasises on page 21, that attitudes and values, like knowledge and skills,

  • are an integral part of the New Zealand Curriculum.

It goes on to say that students:

  • will examine the context and implications of their own values and those of others, and the values on which our current social structures are based.

One of the four underlying concepts that support the framework for learning in Health and Physical Well-being is:

Because the curriculum document emphasises the importance of such attitudes and values, teachers need to plan opportunities for students to explore and develop them.

The Olympic ideals relate closely to the attitudes and values that promote hauora, which are outlined on page 34 of Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999). Learning about the Olympic ideals provides a context in which students can broaden their understanding of the attitudes and values that are inherent in sport and physical education.

Attitudes and Values: Olympic Ideals in Physical Education suggests activities in which students can consider how, through sport and physical activity, people can develop positive social attitudes, values, and patterns of behaviour. The students may then be better able to co-operate with others on a basis of understanding and mutual respect and to strive to be the best they can be in a spirit of friendship, unity, and fair play.

"The Olympic spirit ... requires a mutual understanding in the spirit of friendship, unity and fair play." Understanding Olympism, page 4

Learning through sport can add to students' understanding of other people and societies and enable them to contribute positively to their world.

Learning about sport can also help them to understand the place of sport and its effects across all levels of society, in all cultures, and on people with all kinds of abilities.

Pierre de Coubertin established the Olympic Movement in 1894. He believed that the Movement could provide a structure to assist in the holistic development of all people.

The Olympic Movement encourages the blending of sport, culture, and education to help people to improve their own lives and those of all people everywhere. The Olympic ideals are central to this movement, and the Olympic Games celebrate these ideals. The Games themselves are an opportunity for people to communicate with each other in a way that promotes peace, understanding, and co-operation.

Goal of the Olympic movement


The Olympic Movement seeks to contribute to building a better and more peaceful world by educating young people through sport free of discrimination and in the Olympic spirit.


Understanding Olympism, page 4

Linking to Curriculum
Key concepts
Planning considerations
Learning outcomes
Possible learning experiences
References and resources