Physical education teacher educators’ views regarding the purpose(s) of school physical education
Physical education teacher educators
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AbstractThe aim of this paper was to gain an understanding of the views of a group of physical education teacher educators on the purpose(s) of school physical education and whether, how and why these views have changed over time. Semi-structured individual interviews were carried out with thirteen physical education teacher educators; a fourteenth participant responded to interview questions in writing. Participants were based in seven countries: Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA. A relative consensus on the overarching purpose of physical education was evident, centred on physical education preparing young people for a lifetime of physical activity. The framing of this shared purpose differed somewhat between participants, reflecting a range of perspectives on the value of physical activity. Delineating the boundaries of their subject, participants characterised obesity prevention and maximising in-class physical activity as potential by-products rather than as goals of the subject. The views of many had changed over time, influenced by such factors as findings from research, societal expectations and a perceived need to legitimise physical education within school and university contexts. We note that many of the influences acting on the views of the physical education teacher educators are also known to affect practicing teachers. This suggests a possibility, in the open reflection of physical education teacher educators on the interaction between their views and the institutional and societal contexts within which they work, to provide future teachers with alternative value pathways paved with relatable explanations and shared experiences.
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