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Fit for the job? How corporeal expectations shape physical education teachers' understandings of content, pedagogy, and the purposes of physical education
Örebro University, School of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4162-9844
Örebro University, School of Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8748-8843
Division of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden.
Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Sciences, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden.
2023 (English)In: Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, ISSN 1740-8989, E-ISSN 1742-5786, Vol. 28, no 1, p. 29-42Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: People often expect physical education teachers to look fit and athletic, to do lots of physical activity, and to eat well. While ample research exists on physical education teachers' bodies, relatively few scholars have investigated how physical educators relate corporeal expectations to broader ideas about subject content, pedagogy, and the purposes of the school subject.

Aim: The specific aim of the paper is to identify the assumptions about content, pedagogy, and educational purposes that teachers make when they talk about a perceived need for physical educators to look fit and athletic.

Method: To frame our work theoretically, we draw from a Swedish didaktik of physical education tradition and employ Bakhtin's concept of speech genres, and Wertsch's concept of privileging. Our empirical material consists of transcripts generated from 6 focus group and 6 individual interviews (24 teachers in total, average age of 40 years, average teaching experience 11 years).

Findings: Data suggest that when teachers use an 'athletic-looking teacher as healthy role model' speech genre, they tend to privilege: (1) a particular version of health as subject content that involves not being too overweight and maintaining physical functionality in sports. This content is based on biomedical conceptions of health which foreground exercise, eating and weight, and a pathogenic reduction of risk; (2) particular pedagogies in PE that put the teacher at the centre of the pedagogical situation, and; (3) a certain educational purpose in PE, which is to educate citizens for healthy lives through participation in sport. With respect to this purpose, increasing body weight enters the genre as a potential obstacle for educational success.

Discussion: The findings raise questions concerning appropriate curricular content and its relation to teacher identities. They suggest that learning possibilities may be missed when certain content, pedagogies, and outcomes are privileged. The findings also indicate how wider voices are implicated in the speech genre.

Conclusion: The paper is concluded with reflections on the possibility for change regarding expectations of physical education teachers' bodies and pedagogies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2023. Vol. 28, no 1, p. 29-42
Keywords [en]
Didaktik, teachers, weight, bodies, content
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-92199DOI: 10.1080/17408989.2021.1934664ISI: 000657161900001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85107507709OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-92199DiVA, id: diva2:1562257
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2017-03476Available from: 2021-06-08 Created: 2021-06-08 Last updated: 2023-12-08Bibliographically approved

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Barker, DeanQuennerstedt, Mikael

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