Students’ views on the purpose of physical education in upper secondary school. Physical education as a break in everyday school life – learning or just fun?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSport, Education and Society. 2019, 1-12. 10.1080/13573322.2019.1573421
Previous research shows that students have a widespread understanding about the purpose of physical education (PE), including learning about movement, health and also PE as a break from other school subjects. The present study aims at examining more closely the break perspective in light of interview data from 26 students, whose statements in interviews that focused on PE in upper secondary school in Norway, reveal that the view of PE as a break from other school lessons is also a valid understanding among students when they are approaching the end of PE in their schooling. We have asked what kind of learning the students’ views on PE as a break from other school subject are, or may be, in light of the Norwegian curriculum in PE in upper secondary school and to changes in the 2012 curriculum, which aimed to reduce performance stress and too much hunt for good grades. We present two interpretations of the interview texts – PE as ‘the movement moment’ in everyday school life, and participating in fun activities together with good friends, and a third interpretation, which we describe as a relatively invisible view of knowledge goals among the students about training and lifestyle and critical awareness about sport cultures in the society. We argue that a view of PE as ‘a movement moment’ in everyday school life contributes to modifying the view on PE as a break from other school subjects and to seeing it as a relevant learning perspective. On the other hand, a modiﬁed break perspective should be merged with knowledge and critical lenses on training, health, lifestyle and sport cultures in society, so that the students’ views on the purpose of PE all in all contain important knowledge and reﬂections they should have, according to the Norwegian curriculum in PE.