Phronesis, praxis and autotelic acts in physical education teaching
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Inspired by theory from research on professions and literature, wherein Aristotelian perspectives on professional knowledge are examined, a student’s narrative of social exclusion in physical education (PE) class in upper secondary school is used to discuss a theoretical issue of what characterizes teachers’ professional practice that results in a positive change as experienced by this student. The student told that the teacher helped her so that she started participating in the PE classes and experienced constructive learning processes after being excluded socially in the class. The analysis reveals that the student’s story implies a narrative about a teacher’s autotelic acts, as well as phronesis and praxis. Autotelic acts are closely connected to phronesis and praxis, which are Aristotelian concepts. Professional knowledge and practice that includes phronesis and praxis, means the ability to promote what is good for each individual and make wise choices of actions, but not only for a teacher him- or herself. Phronesis and praxis are here understood as moral and intellectual ‘goods’, which are fundamental for moral awareness in a disposition to do the right things in the right place and time and in the right way for the student in the PE teaching. These acts are autotelic. Moreover, a closer look is taken at the knowledge base for professional practice in PE to substantiate phronesis, praxis and autotelic acts. Here it is argued that practical synthesis is constructivist for in-depth discussions on phronesis, praxis and autotelic acts. It avoids reductionist effects, opens up the discussion and gives additional fruitful directions for further research on these Aristotelian perspectives on professional knowledge in PE.