From silos to crossing borders in physical education

Justen O'Connor, Mike Jess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Physical education has become more than a superficial exposure to a range of motor skills and movement challenges through the emergence of a myriad of educationally-focused initiatives, models and theoretical approaches. Such proliferation of ideas has been positioned within the literature as both a strength and a weakness. While ideas can be strengthened through focused and inward-looking practice, an increasing array of foundational ideas with disparate language, can make the territory of physical education increasingly more difficult to navigate across divided discourses leading to a potentially shallow base. This research articulates a deliberate process of border crossing that we undertook as a way to seek a convergence (where possible) between two related frameworks for understanding and progressing physical education. We acknowledge this exchange of ideas is something that happens frequently and informally between different educators and researchers. Yet we suggest that there is room for those willing to undertake a more deliberate transformational approach to border crossing with the potential to yield innovative outcomes through the integration of ideas from different fields. Opportunities can emerge for educational developments as a consequence of working at these borders/boundaries. To better understand deliberate approaches to border crossing, we draw largely upon ideas from transdisciplinary research, concept analysis, boundary crossing and threshold concepts to reflexively interrogate our own uncertain, at times messy and iterative approach of reconciliation from either side of the globe. The paper offers insights and guidance for others who wish to more formerly seek out synergies through a process of disciplinary border crossing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-422
Number of pages14
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2020


  • comparative analysis
  • complexity
  • concept analysis
  • Physical education
  • social-ecology
  • transdisciplinary

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