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The Game Sense approach as explicit teaching and deliberate practice


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The Game Sense approach (Australian Sports Commission, 1996) was proposed in the mid-1990’s as a game-based approach different to the dominant transmission pedagogy and practice style instruction. This ambitious approach to coaching/teaching sought to enhance sport participation and retention by aligning practice sessions/lessons with the reasons young people like sport and games– to be able to play. It now forms the pedagogical basis of the Australian Sports Commission Playing for Life Philosophy and programs like Sporting Schools (ASC, 2016). The player-centred narrative of the Game Sense approach has provided a serious challenge to the sport-as-sport techniques (Kirk, 2010) ‘drill and test’ mode of sport pedagogy. However, the Game Sense approach is sometimes perceived by teachers to imply a diminished role of the teacher/coach as facilitator. In this paper I propose an expanded explanation of the Game Sense approach equation based on the explanations of ‘game intelligence’ provided by den Duyn (1997), Maho (1974) and Hopper (2003). I argue that the game-centred/teacher-centred polarisation presented in scholarly work about game-based approaches like Game Sense can lead practitioners to a false premise of implicit teaching realized as “the game as teacher”. In this conceptual paper, I present the case that the Game Sense approach is explicit and deliberate teaching in the form of guided participation. The act of teaching becomes the tasks of clearly articulating learning intentions and the associated forms of ‘doing’ that promote the learning of these intentions. This paper will use the concept of ‘understanding by design’ to inform the theory into practice demonstration of sport and games teaching as explicit, strongly guided and deliberate. In the context of game based pedagogies like the Game Sense approach this means intentional learning design creating play with purpose in a flexible and adaptive way to meet the learning needs of students and players.
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Game based pedagogical approaches for games and sport teaching have been distinguished by some authors through the more prominent emphasis on guided discovery teaching and player reflective thinking than what occurs in the more historically common sport-as-sport techniques approach, which is exemplified by a ‘transmission’ method of instruction. In this chapter, we suggest that rather than be seen as competing approaches, game-based approaches can be viewed as a ‘toolkit’ of instructional styles governed by a fundamental proposition – pedagogical decision making. We examine a game-based coaching episode and identify the decisions being made between the coach and players using the Spectrum of Teaching Styles (Mosston & Ashworth, 2008). By doing this, we detail important pedagogical concepts and unify pedagogical decision making that takes place when sport coaching is aimed across the ‘discovery barrier’ and into an intentionally designed space to develop ‘thinking players’.
... Using the term "guided" does not imply an implicit "game as teacher" learning environment. Instead, it is a purposeful environment deliberately constructed and shaped by the pedagogical actions of the teacher (Pill, 2017). This purposefully constructed learning context engages the pedagogical application of game modifications to: ...
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