Teacher or coach? How logics from the field of sports contribute to the construction of knowledge in PETE pedagogical discourse through educational texts

Annemari Munk Svendsen*, Jesper Tinggaard Svendsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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The main purpose of this paper is to focus attention on educational texts as central conveyers of discourses of sport into physical education teacher education (PETE) and by extension into physical education (PE). A considerable volume of research suggests that sport and games continue to be dominant elements of curriculum and practice in contemporary PE. Given the issues of masculinity, physicality and performativity resulting from such continuing sport-focused PE practice, it is relevant to question how such practices are discursively produced or reproduced. In this regard, one area has received only scant attention, namely the potential influence of educational texts used in PETE. Using the theoretical frameworks provided by Michel Foucault, Basil Bernstein and Norman Fairclough, this paper considers educational texts as important contributors to the discursive construction of knowledge in PETE, and thus also as a central resource for studying—and challenging—those discourses that influence on the PE teachers' perceptions of PE and their choices when it comes to the organisation of the PE class. This paper is based on a thorough examination of Danish PETE course documents listing educational texts prescribed by teacher educators for PETE programmes in Denmark. Several of the prescribed educational texts are published by private organisations with sporting interests, such as Team DK and The Sports Confederation of Denmark. This paper conducts a discourse analysis of these texts in order to illuminate how specific social rules regulate their content and involve specific constructions of the learner, the teacher and the relation between them. The paper's findings underline the need for an increased awareness among those who engage in PE practices of the ways in which discourses shape our thinking, and of the potential dangers that lie in the transfer of particular meanings and values as they are constructed in educational texts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)796-810
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

NB! Published online: 18 Sep 2014


  • Basil Bernstein
  • Discourse analysis
  • Educational texts
  • Physical education
  • Physical education teacher education

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