18 SES 02, Learning to Move in and through Physical Education: An embodied experience
Current knowledge of how people learn to move has been powerfully influenced by the field of motor learning (Fischman, 2007). Motor learning concepts like ‘program’, ‘skill acquisition’ and ‘performance’ are largely taken for granted within physical education and sport settings (Evans & Penney, 2008). There are two interrelated problems with this situation. First, although the motor learning field provides sophisticated theories of movement learning, these theories take a dualistic approach, separating mind and body (Nyberg & Carlgren, 2014; Light & Kentel, 2015). As a result, they are insufficient on their own to explain and inform the events that occur when someone is learning to move. Second, existing motor learning theories organize different ways of moving hierarchically where a narrow range of movements – typically related to elite performance in team sports – are seen as gold standards (Larsson & Quennerstedt, 2012). Learners whose movements deviate from these standards are marginalized. Learners that have special needs or bodies dissimilar to elite athletes, indeed, people with little experience of team sports in general are disadvantaged by framing movement learning in this way.
To counter these problems, the current investigation involved developing and implementing a pedagogical sequence based on alternative perspectives of moving bodies. Building on recent research of Nyberg and colleagues (Nyberg & Carlgren, 2014; Nyberg & Larsson, 2014), we used concepts of Gilbert Ryle (Ryle, 2009) regarding dispositions, actualization and intelligent practice, along with the work of Michael Polanyi (Polanyi, 1969, 2002) on practical knowledge, connoisseurship, and types of attention, to create a series of learning experiences for movement learners in physical education lessons. These perspectives challenged dualistic thinking and provided radically different starting points for both the practice and analysis of movement learning. The specific aims of the project addressed through the interplay of pedagogical, empirical and analytical activities were to:
1. Identify the meanings which students ascribe to movement learning when participating in movement sequences underpinned by Ryle and Polanyi’s theories.
2. Explain how the meanings which students ascribe to movement learning support, expand and challenge formal theories relating to movement.
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