Geographical influences upon curriculum development
: a study of environmental intrusion upon physical education and other educational outdoor activities in Northern Territory schools

  • Philip John Doecke

    Student thesis: Other thesis - CDU


    Students undertaking activities outdoors in Northern Territory schools are exposed to potential hazards because of its geography. The predominant hazards with potential for ill-health or injury are: accumulated damage to the body (including skin cancer) by prolonged exposure to solar radiation; and thermoregulatory dysfunction (including heat stress), where a number of contributory factors could lead to the breakdown of the body's ability to keep its internal temperature safely regulated. These hazards exist due to the region's equatorial proximity. The consequences of the history of immigration by fair-skinned people into the region show that they are naturally unendowed with protective physiological and behavioural characteristics.

    To find out how these hazards may affect the health and well-being of students, a survey was carried out to find evidence of the incidence of solar- or heat-related injuries or illnesses. Factors under consideration included gender, age, race or skin type, time of day and location, and signs and symptoms noted related to heat or sun.

    In the study the climatic specifics of the geography of the region are presented, and an investigation of climatic change is undertaken. The effect of solar radiation upon adolescents is considered, including sociological and attitudinal responses to efforts to demonstrate 'sunsafe' behaviours. The literature search established that this is a major area of concern because of the image that being out in the sun and getting a tan has in the mind-set of Australian adolescents.

    An historical investigation of Northern Territory curricular development activities is undertaken in Physical Education. The evidence is that climatic factors are not incorporated into curricular materials in the Northern Territory. Curriculum writers failed to acknowledge the climatic needs of the region in any official documentation.

    Physical Education teachers have a responsibility of 'duty of care' (as for all teachers and educational administrators) for students undertaking activities in schools. Putting students into potentially hazardous situations could have ethical, moral and ultimately legal ramifications. Teacher education units in 'School Law' is a way of enabling teachers to possess an understanding of their responsibilities.

    There are curricular materials available prepared for use in schools, interstate, but there is a dearth of these in the Northern Territory. Recommendations seek to provide a safer and more appropriate work area and work habits for Northern Territory school students, and in areas with similar climates.
    Date of Award1992
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDarol Cavanagh (Supervisor)

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