Kirk warns that physical education (PE) exists in a precarious situation as the dominance of the multi-activity sport-techniques model, and its associated problems, threatens the long-term educational survival of PE. Yet he also notes that although the model is problematic it is highly resistant to change. In this paper, we draw on the results of a year-long visual ethnography at an all-boys secondary school in Aotearoa New Zealand to examine the workings of power that legitimate this model of PE. Our findings illustrate that the school conflates PE and sport, to position PE as an appropriate masculine endeavour and valued source of enjoyment, as it articulates with good health, social development and competitiveness. We argue that student experiences of pleasure within PE—as co-constitutive with discourses of fitness, health, sport and masculinity—(re)produce the multi-activity sport-based form of PE as educationally appropriate and socioculturally relevant, thus making the model somewhat resistant to change. We stress that our study should not be read as a vindication of this PE model.
- Physical education