18 SES 10 A, Issues and Controversies in Sport and Physical Education
Although Physical Education (PE) has survived for over a century, a crisis discourse (see Thorpe, 2003) warning of its demise continues to circulate. This discourse, as recited by critical scholars over several decades (e.g. Dodds & Locke, 1984; Locke, 1992; Kirk, 2010), cautions that PE is failing to achieve its educational aims and is in need of radical reform or is at risk of educational extinction. The prime problem, allegedly, relates to the dominance of the multi-activity, sport-technique model of PE that is characterised by the teaching of sport skills in a decontextualized and seemingly socially irrelevant manner (Kirk, 2010). Locke (1992) provocatively calls this model a “programmatic lemon” (p. 363) and asserts that it is linked with student disaffection, poor skill learning and the educational marginalisation of PE. Kirk (2002) adds that the model has “failed spectacularly” (p. 5) to facilitate lifelong participation in physical activity. Although the failure of this model is subject to debate (e.g. Green, Smith & Roberts, 2005), the associated critiques have spawned calls for a “rethinking of the nature of school physical education” (Tinning & Fitzclarence, 1992, p. 287) and the promotion of other forms of PE, such as, the Sport Education model (Siedentop, 1994) and Teaching Games for Understanding (Bunker & Thorpe, 1982). Despite these changes, Kirk (2010) warns that PE still exists in a precarious situation given the continued dominance of the multi-activity sport-techniques model and its resistance to change.
We suggest that if physical educators desire to challenge the dominance of this model, it is of research significance to examine the workings of power that constitute its continued popularity. To examine this power issue we focus on how students respond to and make sense of their PE lessons. We pay particularly attention to student experiences of pleasure as the majority of the students in our study understood that one of the key purposes of PE was to have fun. In this way, we interrogate the politics of pleasure in PE and its discursive connections to physical culture (e.g. sport, fitness, exercise, games). We conceptualise pleasure via socio-cultural frameworks as informed by Foucauldian ideas and take the position that individuals make sense of pleasures in relation to the discourses circulating within a specific context (Coveney & Bunton, 2003).
Allen, L. (2008). 'Young people's 'agency' in sexuality research using visual methods'. Journal of Youth Studies, 11(6), 565-577. Bunker, D. & Thorpe, R. (1982) A model for the teaching of games in the secondary school, Bulletin of Physical Education, 18(1), 5-8. Coveney, J., & Bunton, R. (2003). In pursuit of the study of pleasure: Implications for health research and practice. Health, 7(2), 161-179. Dodds, P., & Locke, L. (1984). Is physical education in American schools worth saving? Evidence, alternatives, judgment. NAPEHE Proceedings, 5(1), 76–90. Foucault, M. (1978). The history of sexuality, volume one. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Gauntlett, D., & Holzwarth, P. (2006). Creative and visual methods for exploring identities. Visual Studies, 21, 82-91. Green, K., Smith, A. & Roberts, K. (2005). Young people and lifelong participation in sport and physical activity: a sociological perspective on contemporary physical education programmes in England and Wales, Leisure Studies, 24, 27-43. Kirk, D. (2002). Quality physical education through partnerships: A response to Karel J van Deventer. Paper presented to the 12th Commonwealth International Sport Conference, Manchester, July. Kirk, D. (2010). Physical education futures. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge. Locke, L. (1992). Changing secondary school physical education. Quest, 44, 361-72. Pink, S. (2007). Doing visual ethnography. London: Sage Publications. Siedentop, D. (1994). Sport education: quality PE through positive sport experiences. Human Kinetics: Champaign, Il. Thorpe, S. (2003). Crisis discourse in physical education and the laugh of Foucault. Sport, Education and Society, 8(2), 131-151. Tinning, R., & Fitzclarence, L. (1992). Postmodern youth culture and the crisis in Australian secondary school physical education. Quest, 44(3), 287-303.
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