Commentary on Håkan Larsson & Inger Karlefors (2015) Physical education cultures in Sweden: fitness, sports, dancing … learning?, Sport, Education and Society, 20:5, 573-587
by Jennifer Fortunato
In this paper, Larsson and Karlefors investigate physical education and how it plays into movement culture. The authors define movement culture by quoting an earlier paper on movement culture by Crum (1993), “[Movement culture] is how a social group deals with the need and desire for movement beyond labor or maintaining life.” To understand what movement culture can assist in understanding how it can be applied to physical education.
There is initial discussion of how physical education is lacking by going over what element are lacking in the physical education system. The authors state that there is a lack of time dedicated to the content of the course, the physical exercises are decontextualized, and that teacher have a lack of understanding of each of the sports that they are supposed to be teaching the students. There is an assertion within the paper for physical education to be a planned introduction and have lasting participation in movement culture. This assertion is where the authors come in to state their objective of identifying of how this assertion relates to physical education in Swedish schools.
Larsson and Karlefors then introduce how movement culture is identified in physical education. The authors extend movement culture to the logic of practice, which is what people do in social settings according to previous rules where the actions make sense. This is alternative to how many researchers analyze physical activities (identifying motivation of individuals and the function of an activity) and looks at movement culture as an individual deciding what to do from a set of historical and socially cultivated norms. Larsson and Karlefors also define the different movement cultures that are within physical activity as sport logic, sport-technique logic, keep-fit logic, and dance logic.
The authors then go on to investigate the physical education movement culture in Swedish schools by identifying the different logics and how they are pursued/changed within a lesson. They do so by taking videos of 30 physical education lessons. Then reviewing the videos for structure, communication of purpose and how attention is directed towards the activity. The authors identified a pattern from the videos as a ‘looks-like’ pattern. This pattern is where the activities look similar to what they are supposed to but when taking a closer observation is not actually the activity.
Larsson and Karlefors discuss three different looks-like movement cultures through the eyes of sport logic, keep-fit logic and dance logic. Overall, their finding are that the learning objectives for the lesson are vague and that there is little time dedicated to learning a specific activity overall which is similar to their discussion earlier of the shortcomings of physical education system. The authors also identify that students are left to figure most things out on their own which diminishes the learning aspect of physical education.
I think that this paper is a good example of taking movement culture and identifying how it is not only a social aspect of our lives but also how to learn movement culture. Physical education in schools is a primary way for many to learn about movement culture. The authors provide a better understanding of how to integrate learning into physical education rather than just as a training session.