The Future of Physical Education: Building a New Pedagogy

The Future of Physical Education: Building a New Pedagogy

The Future of Physical Education: Building a New Pedagogy

The Future of Physical Education: Building a New Pedagogy


Anthony Laker leads an outstanding international team of educational theorists in critically examining the theoretical underpinnings of physical education, and in challenging the rhetoric, the practices and the pedagogies that prevail in our schools. There has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the value of this subject in schools, particularly around the form that physical education should take. The domination of physical education teaching by the scientific / technical discourses is problemized and it is suggested that this domination limits the potential of the subject to be culturally and contextually relevant to students in schools. This edited collection aims to extend the worldwide academic debate of the future of physical education in schools by challenging the prevailing 'authorised curricula'. Each contributor address a key contemporary issue in physical education bringing different perspectives as they relate to the evolving issues of the subject. They ask important questions about where we intend to take the knowledge we have gained from a legacy of positive research. These chapters tackle critical issues in modernist physical education and suggest how a re-evaluation could contribute to the continuing advancement of the subject for more diverse educational benefits. Laker draws this body of work together in a conclusion that describes a theoretically and pedagogically innovative physical education curriculum for the 21st century. This book is a summary of the current state of research in physical education. It invites debate and discussions in the field and re-conceptualises physical education theory into inclusive practices located in the postmodern school world.


The authors of this volume provide readers with a comprehensive and in-depth account of the past and present issues, controversies, and, yes, the accomplishments in physical education pedagogy. But they also take the additional step of speculating and proposing what the future will, or should, hold for this important endeavor. Each of the authors stake out a specific topic and then constructs a unique perspective from which to analyze that topic. They join a discussion and debate with deep historical roots.

All the authors discuss the antecedents of the particular topic they write about. This is commendable and useful. We must know backward to think forward. But the authors appropriately limit their historical commentary to their topic. So, as I thought about how I might use this Foreword to introduce readers to this book, I thought it would be helpful for me to more broadly locate the topics covered in this volume in a historical context. Although my account of the issues and trends in physical education pedagogy during the past century must necessarily be brief, hopefully it will give readers a better foundation for the topics about which the authors of this volume have written.

In much the same way that the search for the Holy Grail was one of the most enduring Medieval Christian quests by the legendary knights of King Arthur in Western European literature, the search for an appropriate and agreed upon pedagogy has occupied physical educators since the beginnings of modern physical education. From the physical education programs of Johann Basedow and Johann Guts Muths in late 18th century Germany, whose pedagogical practices were influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau's naturalistic education principles, to the gymnastics systems designed by Frederick Jahn in Germany and Per Hendrik Ling of Sweden in the early 19th century to strengthen the vitality of their respective nations, to the games and sports popularized by school boys in England in the mid-19th century, to the variety of physical education curricula and methods employed by physical educators through the 20th century, different visions of appropriate pedagogy have prevailed.

As a field of teaching and academic study in physical education emerged in the later nineteenth century, pedagogical issues and debate dominated the professional literature and conferences. In the United States, a variegated group of physical education pedagogy theories and practices competed for preeminence in what

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