18 SES 08, Developing Teachers Professional Identity: The contemporary physical education teacher
Schools, and in particular physical education (PE), have been increasingly recognised for the role that they play in promoting healthy, active lifestyles amongst children and young people in light of the public health agenda (Shephard and Trudeau, 2000; Trost, 2004; Cale and Harris, 2005). Within the context of England and the United Kingdom (UK) more broadly, Cale and Harris (2011) note how various governmental policies, strategies and initiatives have highlighted the role that schools should be playing in health promotion, with PE often overtly mentioned within these. Indeed, the National Curriculum for PE in England makes explicit reference to the role the subject should be playing in promoting health, with ‘[ensuring] that all pupils lead healthy, active lifestyles’ currently being one of the four overarching aims of the subject across all age groups (Department for Education, 2013, p. 1). It must be noted, that whilst the present study focuses on England, it has relevance to countries across Europe and globally, with the school being viewed as a suitable setting for health promotion in many nations (O’Sullivan, 2004).
Although schools have been recognised for the role that they can play in promoting health to children and young people, concerns have been raised by some as to how effectively they might currently be promoting this (Cale et al., 2016). The research reported on in this paper emanates from the growing body of literature expressing concerns over what school-aged children and young people know and understand about leading a healthy, active lifestyle and their conceptions of what it means to be ‘healthy’ (see Harris et al., 2016 for an overview). This research has found that children and young people can have narrow conceptions of ‘health’, as well as gaps/errors in their knowledge and understandings of healthy, active lifestyles (ibid). Evidently, if this is the case, PE and schools more broadly may not be promoting healthy, active lifestyles to pupils as effectively as they might.
This paper reports on the main phases of a wider study exploring pupils’ conceptions, knowledge and understandings of healthy, active lifestyles. These phases have explored what pupils within secondary schools in England know, understand and conceive about healthy, active lifestyles, where and how they learn about these, and how they utilise what they know, understand and conceive in the context of their own lifestyles. It is anticipated that the findings from the study will be able to inform policy and practice in this area both within curricular PE and across the whole school.
The theoretical framework underpinning the study draws on the work of Foucault. Specifically, it draws upon a genealogical analysis of discourse. This seeks to analyse how discourse influences and informs individuals’ understandings of the world, paying particular attention to the social and political relationships/structures from which these understandings are constructed. It focuses on the ideological underpinnings of the dominant discourses that have shaped the ways in which individuals think about the world, how they are positioned within it, and how they assume or resist these positions (Wooffitt, 2005). Within the study, ‘health’ discourses and their manifestations will be examined through the ‘talk’ of pupils to explore how these discourses ‘play out’ within PE, schools, and the lives of children and young people more broadly.
Cale, L. and Harris, J. (2005) Promoting Physical Activity within Schools, in L. Cale and J. Harris (Eds.) Exercise and young people: issues, implications and initiatives. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 162-190. Cale, L. and Harris, J. (2011) ‘Every child (of every size) matters’ in physical education! Physical education’s role in childhood obesity, Sport Education and Society, 18 (4), 433-452. Cale, L., Harris, J. and Duncombe, R. (2016) Promoting physical activity in secondary schools: Growing expectations, ‘same old’ issues? European Physical Education Review, 22 (4), 526-544. Department for Education [DfE] (2013) National Curriculum in England: Physical Education Programmes of Study. London: DfE. Christensen, P. and James, A. (2008) Research with children: perspectives and practices. London: Routledge. Harris, J., Cale, L., Duncombe, R. and Musson, H. (2016) Young people’s knowledge and understanding of health, fitness and physical activity: issues, divides and dilemmas, Sport, Education and Society, DOI: 10.108013573322.2016.1228047. Heath, S., Brooke, R., Cleaver, E. and Ireland, E. (2009) Researching young people’s lives. London: Sage. O’Sullivan, M. (2004) Possibilities and pitfalls of a public health agenda in physical education, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 23, 392-404. Shephard, R. and Trudeau, F. (2000) The legacy of physical education: influences on adult lifestyle, Pediatric Exercise Science, 12, 34-50. Trost, S. (2004) School physical education in the post-report era: An analysis from public health, Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 23, 38-337. Wooffitt, R. (2005) Conversation Analysis and Discourse Analysis: A Comparative and Critical Introduction. London: Sage.
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