18 SES 06, Body Pedagogy
Pedagogical research on career is encouraged to not limit sport learning to athletic skills, coaching effectiveness and coach–athlete relationships, but to also focus on learning in a multidimensional sense in the context of an athlete’s individual and social biography. This article examines an elite athlete’s career path as a body pedagogic phenomenon involving processes of self-transformation in relation to practical, social and embodied environments (Archer 2010; Shilling and Bunsell 2014).
The purpose is to analyse the career path of the elite footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic by focusing on how different learning environments relate to different embodiments of techniques and skills and how values and norms shape professionalism.
The experiences of coaches and athletes are perceived as taking place in an interactive workplace that is packed with competing egos, hierarchies, constraints and opportunities (Jones, Armour, and Potrac 2003; Cushion, Armour, and Jones 2006). In view of this, it is important to understand how an athlete experience and deal with such challenges in relation to identity (Wacquant 2005; Shilling 2008) and what kind of pedagogic initiatives have been taken to develop a shared understanding of embodied habits (Loquet 2011; Andersson and Garrison 2016 ).
This study contributes to the field by connecting to research that follows elite athletes throughout the whole of their careers in order to narratively identify the changes in and forging of identities (e.g. Rossi, Rynne, and Rabjohns 2016). Despite the more institutionalised educational practices of high-performance sport (Peterson 2007) and commodity orientation (Barker-Ruchti et al. 2016), it is possible to analyse how an athlete navigates and struggles to forge his or her own educational pathway. Our study follows Shilling and Bunsell (2014 ), who have shown that elite athletes’ self-transformation and learning is beneficially understood in relation to Archer’ s analytical distinction between social, practical and embodied environments (Archer 2010; Shilling and Bunsell, 2014 ).
A combined framework of body pedagogics and John Dewey’s theory of aesthetic experience is used to understand an elite career path as a learning trajectory involving different selftransformation means. Hence, the elite athlete is viewed as a career climber who creates his own educational pathway and engages in processes of participating, acquiring and becoming.
According to Dewey, if processes that lead to ‘spontaneity’ and ‘ intuition’ are purely bodily, purely social or purely practical, they would never be expressions of art. Artistry, therefore, is the human expression of the creation of coherent identity (Dewey [1934 ] 2005). The practical consequence of this view – to paraphrase Pierce’ s famous principle of ‘ never block the road of inquiry’ – is that elite athletes may have to overcome identities that block the road in order to inquire further into their own artistry.
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