Learning about health through ‘intergenerational arts-led pedagogies’ in health and physical education: exploring pedagogical possibilities

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    This paper shares a unique approach to primary Health and Physical Education (HPE) whereby students learn about personal, social and community health through intergenerational arts-led pedagogies. Drawing on socio-critical, socio-cultural and salutongenic perspectives, the unit of work that the students engaged with was underpinned by an assumption that health is complex, socially constructed and should be problematised. We share a case study of one Grade 5/6 class (age 10-12) that participated in a unit of work where they connected with senior citizens from the same geographical community to learn about personal, social and community health. The unit of work served to problematise the potholes of traditional HPE where health is typically politicised, moralised, risk-focused and individualised. Data collection consisted of artwork, observations, field notes, and semi-structured focus-group interviews with 23 students (mean age=11) and 18 seniors (mean age=73). The findings suggest that the intergenerational arts-led pedagogies, allowed for more nuanced understandings of health and health assets to develop, which made visible in practice a combination of socio-critical, socio-cultural and salutogenic approaches in practice. The findings also offered a novel insight into how people from different generations can link together and co-construct shared meanings of personal, social and community health. In the case study presented here, the intergenerational linking and connection led to preconceptions and stereotypes of each other to be challenged, and for traditional power balances to loosen and shift over time and context. We can see these changes as pedagogical possibilities whereby students have the opportunity to further develop their knowledge and understanding of personal, social and community health. These possibilities can only come to fruition, however, if teachers are supported to experiment and be creative in their pedagogical work. We conclude that there is rich potential for intergenerational arts-led HPE.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)815-830
    Number of pages16
    JournalSport, Education and Society
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


    • art
    • cross-curricular
    • curriculum
    • Health and physical education
    • health education
    • intergenerational learning
    • social capital

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