Re-conceptualizing embodied pedagogies in physical education by creating pre-text vignettes to trigger pleasure ‘in’ movement

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    Background: Recent critiques of twenty-first century physical education (PE), and by association physical education teacher education (PETE), position the discipline as largely uncontested, unproblematised and uncritical. This critique encourages researchers to re-consider the nature of PE and what it means to move, be moved, value movement or be physically educated. Much literature also supports the claim that young people, especially young women are not as convinced of the value of PE as their teachers are, and hence question the educative or pleasurable value of PE, and the kinds of movement activities it precipitates. As a consequence, prescriptive unimaginative ‘straight’ pedagogies that restrict teacher creativity dominant PE classrooms, giving rise to ongoing exclusions and maintenance of a space where the embodied experience of moving in the world is foreclosed to many young women. This paper engages with the discomfort of change in PE/PETE, alongside the tiresome narrative around the ‘problem’ of/with young women and movement to consider the question, ‘what might an embodied form of pedagogy in PE look like for young women?’ Purpose: To address this question the paper empirically and pedagogically rethinks the educative purpose/potential of the discipline for young women in relation to embodied learning and pleasure. By deploying a reconceptualization of Peter Arnold’s notion of ‘in’ movement, the paper offers PE/PETE practitioners practical examples of embodied pedagogies by way of pre-text vignettes with the potential to elicit movement pleasure and meaning, critique taken-for-granted assumptions, and as such enable the lifelong valuing of movement for and by young women. Methodology: This paper begins with a number of claims about the uncontested, uncritical and unimaginative state of PE/PETE and the pedagogical impact of this on learners and educators. This is then anchored to findings from a set of empirical data that explored the concept of embodied learning in the context of ‘fire-fighting camps for girls’. This anchoring is done by using the work of Arnold and others to support an exploration and subsequent development of embodied pedagogies. As such the paper dwells only briefly on the empirical aspects of the data, preferring instead to focus on putting Arnold to work theoretically and pedagogically, arguably a complex task and yet important as his work forms the underlying assumptions of many PETE courses and international PE curricula. Findings: A number of pre-text vignettes in the form of postcards, photographs, videos, a poem, and a letter are shared as stand-alone pedagogical stimulus material that respond to calls to offer alternative, critical and non-normative choices to PE/PETE practitioners and their students. These pre-text vignettes use themes as their starting point and each is accompanied by a brief analysis as well as suggestions for how they might usefully be used as teaching and learning resources in a classroom. Thus, the vignettes pedagogically engage with the discomfort of change in PE/PETE whilst also disrupting the tiresome narrative around the ‘problem’ of/with young women and movement.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)154-173
    Number of pages20
    JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


    • Arnold
    • embodied learning
    • embodied pedagogy
    • Physical education (PE)
    • physical education teacher education (PETE)
    • pleasure
    • pre-text vignettes

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