Peter Hill

Physical Education, Sport and Leisure Studies, Lecturer

Peter Hill


University of Edinburgh


United Kingdom


One of the really satisfying parts of my work is to visit students on placement and share views about teaching with them and their supervising teachers. Those discussions are all the more productive because in most instances all three parties share an understanding of teaching as a consequence of the central role played by the Spectrum in the training of PE teachers in Scotland over the last 30 years. How did an estimated 75% of PE teachers currently teaching in Scotland come to be Spectrum-trained??

I was standing in a registration queue at Temple University in Philadelphia in January1973 when an Australian graduate student from Australia, Jean Roberts, told me about a course on teaching styles that a guest lecturer called Muska Mosston was offering at Ambler campus. Jean was going to sign up for the course and had arranged to get a lift with Mike Goldberger who would be sitting in on the course. She was sure Mike would be able to squeeze me into his car.

So began one of the most profound learning experiences of my life. With Sara sitting at the back of the class taking notes about the questions asked and the answers given, each Wednesday evening I witnessed a bearded bundle of energy coax and exhort all those present to reconstruct their understanding of teaching. All my questions having been answered by Muska or Sara either during class or in some diner after the session, my main reservation at the end of the course was whether the Spectrum was as powerful an analytical tool as had been demonstrated on a weekly basis or had I simply been dazzled by someone who was a truly charismatic teacher?

My experiences in Scotland since I became a member of staff at Dunfermline College of Physical Education in 1974 have made me grateful to that charismatic teacher for introducing me to a framework for understanding teaching that has never been found wanting in whatever context it has been used. When the Spectrum was first included in the B Ed (PE) programme in the mid 1970s as the basis for examining group structure and roles in PE lessons, students who didn't take that optional course heard about the Spectrum, complained they were being disadvantaged and insisted that it was offered to all students! Subsequently the Spectrum has been the core element of the pedagogical strand of successive versions of the B Ed (PE) programme – a 4 year, concurrent programme that catered for the training of all female PE teachers in Scotland until 1987 and thereafter for the training of all PE teachers until the recent introduction of the one year PGDE route into teaching. Those thousands of PE teachers who have graduated from the B Ed (PE) programme over the past 30 odd years are the basic reason why such a large proportion of PE teachers in Scotland are Spectrum-trained.

Some of the other avenues through which PE teachers in Scotland have become acquainted with the Spectrum have been the In Service B Ed (PE) programme which provided an opportunity for 3 year diploma-trained PE teachers to convert their teaching qualification to an Honours degree; a national programme of in-service designed to expand the range of teaching styles employed by PE teachers following the introduction of certificated course in PE in schools throughout Scotland in the late 1980s and early 1990s; and a series of workshops during the 1980s in which Muska, Sara and Wally Mellor worked with staff who taught on Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in PE throughout Britain.

Wally's contribution to the growth of understanding about the Spectrum deserves special mention because for several years he led workshops throughout Scotland and England for PE teachers and university staff involved in ITE such as Martin Underwood at St Lukes and Malcolm Butterworth at Carnegie. Those workshops led to the formation of networks that helped physical educationists share and develop their ideas about PE and how the Spectrum could be used to prepare young people for careers in PE.

So Jean Roberts' passing comment in the registration queue and my decision to join her and Mike on the road to Ambler has, to use a line from Robert Frost, "made all the difference". However, I'm not "telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence" because I've never regretted the road I chose to follow.

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