• Developing children: developmental discourses underpinning physical education at three Scottish preschool settings

      McEvilly, Nollaig; Atencio, Matthew; Verheul, Martine; University of Chester; California State University; The University of Edinburgh (Taylor & Francis, 2015-11-20)
      This paper reports on one aspect of a study that investigated the place and meaning of ‘physical education’ to practitioners and children at three preschool settings in Scotland. We employed a poststructural type of discourse analysis to examine the developmental discourses the 14 participating practitioners drew on when talking about ‘physical education’ at preschools, during semi-structured interviews. Three main discourses around the notion of developmentalism were identified during analysis of the adults’ interview data: (1) preschool children learn and develop through play; (2) preschool children should have choices and freedom; and (3) sometimes more structured activities are needed. The practitioners were heavily invested in developmental ‘truths’ about how preschool children learn and develop. They were in agreement that play is a vital element of preschool education, and that, consequently, children should be provided with opportunities for exploration and making choices. However, they also talked about sometimes ‘needing’ to restrict children’s freedom and provide more adult-led activities. Our findings illustrate the strength of developmental discourses at the three settings. We suggest that preschool practitioners, as well as policy-makers and researchers, should critically reflect on the effects of taken-for-granted developmental discourses, and move beyond thinking in terms of binaries such as ‘physical education versus play’ or ‘structure versus freedom’.
    • “The helping, the fixtures, the kits, the gear, the gum shields, the food, the snacks, the waiting, the rain, the car rides…”: Social Class, Parenting and Children’s Organised Leisure

      Wheeler, Sharon; Green, Ken; Edge Hill University; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-05-11)
      Class-related parenting cultures and ideologies have been of considerable interest to academics over the last two decades. Much of the research thus far has focused on exploring Annette Lareau’s conceptualisations of ‘natural growth’ and ‘concerted cultivation’ and the implications for outcomes in relation to education. The focus of the present article is organised activities, which are a central but as yet relatively under-researched feature of middle-class parenting. The findings are based upon 73 semi-structured interviews with parents and children from 48 middle-class families living in and around a small city in northern England. The article reveals that initiating and facilitating children’s organised activities is considered a central aspect of ‘good’ parenting in middle-class social networks. It is shown how this is a consequence of several developments within society over the past three decades or so, including the rising levels of maternal employment, the growing competitiveness of the labour market and the increasing concerns related to children’s health and safety. It is argued that these developments have heightened middle-class parents’ predisposition to not only be involved with and invest in their children’s leisure biographies, but to do so in a more deliberate, rigorous and rational manner.
    • ‘It’s alpha omega for succeeding and thriving’: Parents, children and sporting cultivation in Norway

      Johansen, Patrick F.; Green, Ken; Innland University Norway; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2017-11-13)
      It has become increasingly apparent, internationally, that childhood is a crucial life-stage in the formation of predispositions towards sports participation and that parents are increasingly investing in the sporting capital of their children via a process of ‘concerted cultivation’. It is surprising, therefore, that parents’ involvement in the development of their children’s sporting interests has received so little attention in Norway, given that sport is a significant pastime for Norwegians and participation has been steadily increasing – among youngsters, in particular – over the past several decades. Through a qualitative case study of a combined primary and secondary school in a small Norwegian city, this study sought to add to recent explorations of the role of parents in children’s sporting involvement in Norway. As expected, it was evident that sport becomes taken for granted and internalized very early on in Norwegian children’s lives. Less expected was the recognition that children’s nascent sporting interests were often generated by sports clubs via early years schooling and, therefore, that parents played only one (albeit very important) part in the formation of their youngsters’ early sporting habits. Thus, parents, sports clubs and early years schooling appeared to form something akin to a ‘sporting trinity’ in youngsters’ nascent sporting careers. These findings may have implications for policy-makers looking towards Norway for the ‘recipe’ for sports participation.
    • Mission impossible? Reflecting upon the relationship between physical education, youth sport and lifelong participation

      Green, Ken; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2012-05-08)
      It is widely believed that school physical education (PE) is or, at the very least, can (even should) be a crucial vehicle for enhancing young people’s engagement with physically active recreation (typically but not exclusively in the form of sport) in their leisure and, in the longer run, over the life-course. Despite the prevalence of such beliefs there remains a dearth of evidence demonstrating a ‘PE effect’. Indeed, the precise nature of the relationship between PE, youth sport and lifelong participation is seldom explored other than in implicit, often speculative and discursive, ways that simply take-for-granted the positive effects of the former (PE) on the latter (youth and adult participation in sport and physically active recreation). Using largely European studies to frame the issue, this paper reflects upon the supposedly ‘causal’ relationship between PE, youth sport and lifelong participation and, in doing so, highlights the inherent problems associated with attempts to identify, characterise and establish a ‘PE effect’.
    • Norwegian youngsters’ perceptions of physical education: Exploring the implications for mental health

      Røset, Linda; Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-06-24)
      Improving young people’s mental health has become a priority for policy-makers in Norway as elsewhere. Although the evidence is limited, physical activity has been identified as having a role in mental health promotion with school physical education (PE) typically being presented as a suitable setting. Few studies, however, have explored young people’s perceptions and experiences of PE and the possible consequences for their mental health – the departure point for this paper. We approach this issue sociologically by focusing on the processes through which PE is enacted. Qualitative data were generated by 31 focus groups involving 148 youngsters from the 10th grade (15–16-year-olds) in eight secondary schools in Norway. The overarching theme to emerge was that PE was valued by the students for what it was not as much as what it was. The appeal of PE often lay in being different and a break from ‘normal’ school lessons and, at the same time, an opportunity for informal social interaction and strengthening social bonds. Enjoyment of PE – even among those with limited sporting competence – was understood as giving rise to cathartic benefits and an antidote to their increasingly academic, routinized and performance-oriented school lives. However, processes relating to the organization, delivery and assessment of lessons meant that these benefits were sometimes compromised for some young people. We conclude that as far as the mental health of young people is concerned, the best justificatory defence for PE becomes physical recreation as a solution to (academic) schooling rather than PE as education.
    • Physical education teachers in their figurations: A sociological analysis of everyday 'philosophies'

      Green, Ken; Chester College of Higher Education (Taylor & Francis, 2002-03)
      This article examines physical education (PE) teachers' perceptions of their subject and the impact upon their practice of their (sporting) predispositions as well as the contraints of their school and 'professional' contexts. It reports data from an original empirical study conducted by the author with physical education teachers in secondary schools in the north-west of England.
    • “[We’re on the right track, baby], we were born that way!” Exploring sports participation in Norway

      Green, Ken; Thurston, Miranda; Vaage, Odd; Roberts, Ken; University of Chester; Hedmark University College; Norsk Statistisk Sentralbyra (Taylor & Francis, 2013-02-25)
      Based on quantitative data from the Norwegian Statistisk Sentralbyrå (Statistics Norway) study of Mosjon, Friluftsliv og Kulturaktiviteter, this paper explores trends in Norwegians' participation in sports, with a focus on young people. Norway boasts particularly high levels of sports participation as well as sports club membership and young Norwegians are the quintessential sporting omnivores. Among other things, the Statistics Norway study reveals substantial increases in participation (among young people and females especially) during the period 1997–2007, a shift in the peak of participation to the late teenage years, a relatively high level of lifelong participants, a re-bound effect in the post-child rearing years and a growth in lifestyle sports. Young Norwegians grow up in a socio-economic context of relative equality between the sexes and high standards of living. An abundance of natural and artificial outdoor and indoor sporting facilities alongside a well-established voluntary sports club sector and an elementary school system that emphasizes physical exercise and recreation, as well as high levels of parental involvement, add to the favourable socio-economic conditions to create seemingly optimal circumstances for sports participation. All these reinforce the sporting and physical recreation cultures deeply embedded in Norwegian society and embodied by the very many middle-class parents in a country which, for the time being at least, remains relatively young in demographic terms. In terms of lessons to be learned for policy towards sports and physical education beyond Norway, there may be grounds for some optimism around parental involvement in children's sport as well as the potential appeal of lifestyle sports. That said, it is likely to be the greater socio-economic equalities in Scandinavian countries such as Norway that make them unrealistic benchmarks for sports participation elsewhere.
    • What is PE and who should teach it? Undergraduate PE students’ views and experiences of the outsourcing of PE in the UK

      McEvilly, Nollaig; University of Chester
      This paper investigates beginning BSc Physical Education (PE) students’ views and experiences of the outsourcing of PE in the UK. Outsourcing involves the provision of PE by external providers such as sports coaches. PE in the UK (and other neoliberal Western contexts) is a site in which outsourcing has become increasingly normalised. I anticipated that, as first year undergraduates, the participants would have relatively recent experience of outsourcing as pupils/students (i.e. experience of receiving outsourced PE provision). Data were generated through written narratives (n = 16), completed on the participants’ first day at university, and follow-up semi-structured interviews (n = 10). Drawing on a Foucaultian theoretical framework, I employed a poststructural type of discourse analysis concerned with analysing patterns in language. Referring to PE, the participants drew heavily on a sport discourse, often conflating PE and sport and emphasising the necessity of teachers having knowledge and experience of sports content and skills, as well as a pedagogical discourse (and, to a lesser extent, a ‘healthy lifestyles’ discourse). The participants had a range of experiences of outsourcing in PE, particularly at primary level. They were in favour of primary PE being taught by either specialist PE teachers, or sports coaches (rather than generalist teachers alone). They spoke positively about their experiences of external provision at both primary and secondary school. While few critical comments were provided, participants raised concerns about external providers’ pedagogical knowledge, and some questioned if teachers might feel devalued by external providers being brought in to teach aspects of their curriculum. In general, while the participants recognised teachers’ pedagogical expertise, they also valued external providers’ perceived content knowledge and sporting experience. As such, by conflating PE and sport, they considered that PE should be taught by sport ‘experts’ and that external providers could enhance schools’ internal capabilities.