Teaching Movement Activities as Performativity

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In August 2014, a new school reform was implemented in the Danish primary and secondary school system. In the new prolonged school days’ movement activities is introduced as a tool to increase the pupils’ health, cognitive learning and wellbeing. By introducing movement activities in the literate subjects the teaching style should be characterized by more variation and motivate the pupils. Research has shown that there is a correlation between physical activity and intellectual capital (e.g. educational attainment and academic performance), physical capital (e.g. physical fitness and reduction of the risk for diseases and risk factors) and emotional capital (e.g. fun, enjoyment and self-esteem) (Bailey, Hillman, Arent, & Petitpas, 2013). The school reform prescribes that all pupils from grade 1-9 must have at least 45 minutes of movement activities in average every day.Next to the well-known PE-teaching the movement activities must be integrated in the academic and creative subjects as active teaching and brain breaks etc. or as organized activities during the extended school day. Movement activities has become a part of all subjects and all teachers’ professional task. Since these movement activities is a new obligation the teachers are facing some pedagogical challenges (Jensen, 2015). The new school reform forces the teachers to teach in a way they are not educated, trained in or experienced. The teachers’ role is changing. This study investigates how teachers in different subjects and with different habitual predispositions and styles of bodily expression integrate movement activities in their teaching. Teaching is understood as bodily performativity (Butler, 1993) and instead of conscious acts based on didactic choices teaching is perceived as a mix between norms and rules on one side and on the other side idiosyncratic predispositions (Bourdieu, 1977) and the local school culture. Performing a teaching practice will always be ambiguous and a pragmatic approximation and interpretation of specific norms and expectations in a certain culture (Butler, 1993). The teachers’ performativity are never without prerequisites but part of discourses and at the same time individual interpretations of specific practices. The teaching role is something that is constantly produced and reproduced in the bodily interaction. Understanding teaching as performativity means that teachers are not acting in certain ways because they feel like teachers, but they feel like teachers because they act like teachers. Methods/methodologyShort term (Pink & Morgan, 2013) and focused (Knoblauch, 2005) ethnographic fieldwork was carried out in two Danish primary schools for approximately 15 days at each school. The researcher was following an age-integrated class in grade 0-2 and a class in grade 5. The two classes were followed throughout the school day through the different subjects and with their different teachers. The observations were mainly non-participating but at some occasions the researcher was participating in activities and games (Spradley, 1980). The observations were written down as field notes (Emerson, Fretz, & Shaw, 2011) and photos were taken to support the field notes. During the observation a special attention was addressed to bodily communication (Argyle, 1988; Gebauer & Wulf, 1995) and micro-sociological interactions (Goffman, 1966). In the end of the fieldwork semi-structured interviews were conducted with teachers (Brinkmann & Kvale, 2015).Expected outcomes/resultsThe preliminary analysis shows that the didactic practice and teaching role not only differ according to norms, rules and individual personality but also according to the subject. The following teaching roles are identified: Organizer, participator, performer, observer, caregiver, classroom leader, mood creator and culture creator. Integrating movement activities in the everyday life in school not only seems to be a challenge it also seems to be complex and solved in a wide variety of ways. ReferencesArgyle, M. (1988). Bodily communication. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd.Bailey, R., Hillman, C., Arent, S., & Petitpas, A. (2013). Physical activity: an underestimated investment in human capital? Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 10, 289–308. Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Brinkmann, S., & Kvale, S. (2015). InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. Loa Angeles: SAGE.Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that Matter. On the discursive limits of “sex.” New York: Routledge.Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (2011). Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Gebauer, G., & Wulf, C. (1995). Mimesis. Culture, Art, Society. Berkeley: California University Press.Goffman, E. (1966). Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings. New York: Free Press.Jensen, J.-O. (2015). Vær stille! Vi skal have bevægelse. Forum for Idræt, 31(1).Knoblauch, H. (2005). Focused Ethnography. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(3). https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004Pink, S., & Morgan, J. (2013). Short-Term Ethnography: Intense Routes to Knowing. Symbolic Interaction, 36(3), 351–361. https://doi.org/10.1002/SYMB.66Spradley, J. P. (1980). Participant observation. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace.
StatusUdgivet - 2017


  • Læring, pædagogik og undervisning