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Ett ämne för alla?: Normer och praktik i grundskolans idrottsundervisning 1962-2002
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on the physical education in the Swedish compulsory school-system during the period of 1962-2002. The background for the study is an ongoing debate concerning the deteriorating physical health among the Swedish adolescents, a development commonly explained by the decreased amount of physical education provided by the compulsory school-system.

The thesis is divided into three empirical parts. The aim of the first part is to compare the physical education on the normative level, as comprehended from the national curriculum, with the practical level, that is the contents of the subject according to the teachers themselves during the period. The aim of the second part is to analyse similarities and differences on the normative and practical level and try to explain them. The thesis also contains a third part, an international study where the Swedish results are compared with the physical education in Germany, England, Denmark, the USSR and the USA during the same period.

The result of the comparison shows similarities and differences. The most important similarities concerns the amount of time allocated to the subject and the aims with the education. The normative level exerts a great influence over the practical level regarding the amount of allocated time. Reductions on the normative level have corresponded with changes on the practical level. Regarding the aims of the physical education there seem to exist a mutual consent on the normative and practical level. On both levels the subject has been motivated by the health benefits gained by physical activity. Aesthetic and result-orientated aims were not given any major concern. The greatest difference is that recreational aims are given more concern on practical level than on normative. However, when studying the activities that were recommended on the normative level in comparison to what actually took place, great differences are revealed. While the curriculum recommended a broad range of activities, from different sports to theoretical education, the teachers focused on a narrow range of activities, mainly ball sports, gymnastics and track and field.

This results in another question. How could it be that the normative and practical level shows such so great similarities concerning the aims of the subject when the activities that were preferred differed so substantially? In the second part of the study, this question is in focus. The following analysis shows that the normative level in all respects adjusted itself to changes in the society during the second half of the 20th century. The practical level on the other hand did not exhibit any such adjustments. Rather, local factors, as the availability of sports facilities, the direction and intensity of the local sports movement, and the teachers and students own experience of sports proved to be important factors. The conclusion thus is, that while the normative level, the national curriculum, was influenced by changes in society, the practical level, that is the education provided by the physical education-teachers, was influenced by the facilities available and experiences of the participants in the physical education. This also explains the similarities and differences shown in the first part of the study.

The result of the third part, the international comparison, shows that the Swedish situation was not unique. In general the results corresponds well with existing research on physical education in Denmark and Germany. These nations have several things in common with Sweden, most importantly the organisation of the national sports movement and a historical gymnastic legacy. This argument is also strengthened by the fact that the other nations studied, England, the USA and the USSR, differed substantially from Sweden concerning the subject of physical education. Neither of these nations has shared the gymnastic legacy nor are the sports movements organized in the same manner as the formerly mentioned nations.

Thus, the conclusion of the thesis is that while the curriculum seemed to adjust itself after the changes in society during the second half of the 20th century, the physical education teachers adjusted the education in accordance with their own experience of sport, with the popular local sports and with the availability of facilities in close proximity of the school. As a consequence, major differences regarding the contents of the physical education developed between the normative and the practical level while the aims of the education showed great similarities on both levels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Carlsson bokförlag , 2005. , 337 p.
Keyword [sv]
aims, activities, children, normative level, physical education, practical level, school, society, sport, sport facilities, sports, teacher, youth
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-489ISBN: 91-7203-689-3OAI: diva2:194554
Public defence
2005-05-20, aulan, Idrottshögskolan, Lidingövägen 1, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2005-04-28 Created: 2005-04-28Bibliographically approved

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