Head of PDHPE

Head of PDHPE

Adolescent in Wonderland

Adolescence – that period between childhood and adulthood where for older generations, reminiscing about the realities of this realm may seem a distant memory. Allow me to refresh that memory: uncontrollable physical changes, identity exploration, unimaginable cognitive development and notably, experimentation. It is often forgotten that amid the day-to-day academics and activities that our students routinely partake in, they are also facing adolescence, whereby the innocence of their childhood – ‘wonderland’ – is slowly fading away. This transitional period is often associated with distress and confusion as opposed to elation. Jean Piaget (1985) states that “the ultimate function of adolescence is to place adolescents in the adult society.” Whilst reflecting on Piaget’s statement, one question in particular comes to mind –  is it harder than ever for today’s generation of teens to be an adolescent and embark upon adulthood?

As a PDHPE teacher, one of our most crucial roles is to inform and assist with the inevitable adolescent transition our students will face. Additionally, and with the support of parents, it is also our job to best prepare and equip our students with the necessary skills to face the reality of adolescence. Nothing could be further from the truth when we are often stereotyped as the subject where students ‘just play sports’! Yes, our role does ensure that students are given the opportunity to engage in regular movement experiences, however a pivotal proportion of our teaching is facilitating students to think critically, solve problems and make informed decisions on the health, safety and wellbeing of themselves and others.

By 2020, the full implementation of the new PDHPE curriculum across NSW for Kindergarten through to Year 10 will be in full throttle. The main changes of this curriculum are for learning experiences to take on a strength based approach whereby it’s identified that students use their own strengths, capabilities and resources in a wide range of situations to optimise wellbeing, as well as build skills to promote confidence and a capacity to be healthy. It’s only fitting that the most suitable time to empower them with these skills is during adolescence. Here at Loreto Normanhurst, our Stage 4 and 5 PDHPE programs will unpack a range of important adolescent issues including:

  • Puberty
  • Sex Education and Sexuality
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Road Safety
  • Cyber Safety and Navigating the Web
  • Domestic Violence, Discrimination and Harassment
  • Body Image and
  • Mental Health

Through the in depth study of these delicate yet essential topics, students are able to establish an understanding of the world around them, experience discrepancies between what they already know and what they discover, and consequently adjust their ideas and decisions accordingly. It is important that adolescents can find their role in society and make informed choices. Without taking risks, challenging themselves and developing a sense of self, they simply won’t evolve.

PDHPE gives them the opportunity to discover who they are and find ways to better accept themselves, thus ensuring a much smoother ride through their adolescent journey. Just like in the case of Alice in Wonderland, we can’t expect our students to find logic or meaning in all situations they encounter. So let’s foster a sense of empathy, resiliency and wisdom in a way that empowers our students to develop self-expression and ultimately, independence for life after adolescence.


Ms Marie Bugge

Head of PDHPE