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Friluftsliv: a contribution to equity and democracy in Swedish Physical Education? An analysis of codes in Swedish Physical Education curricula
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Education in Arts and Professions. (Forskningsgruppen för pedagogik, idrott och fritidskulturer)
2011 (English)In: Journal of Curriculum Studies, ISSN 0022-0272, E-ISSN 1366-5839, Vol. 43, no 2, 269-288 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

During the last decade, expanding research investigating school subject Physical Education (PE), indicates a promotion of inequalities regarding which children benefit from PE teaching. Outdoor education and its Scandinavian equivalent friluftsliv, is a part of the PE curriculum in many countries and these practices have been claimed to have the potential to contribute to more equity in PE teaching. Through an investigation of how stipulations regarding friluftsliv in the national Swedish PE curriculum are transformed and interpreted into 31 local PE syllabus documents, this paper investigates the possibilities for friluftsliv to fulfil this potential. In an analysis inspired by educational sociologist Basil Bernstein, I claim that Swedish PE teachers’ marginalised interpretation of friluftsliv indicates its weak classification when a part of PE. When friluftsliv is addressed in PE, the strong dominance of a performance code transforms it into mere sport activities. The results of this study highlight questions regarding PE teachers’ interpretation of learning aims and their work with text documents. It also discusses alternatives to implementing friluftsliv through PE and the role of teachers in curriculum reforms. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Taylor & Francis, 2011. Vol. 43, no 2, 269-288 p.
Keyword [en]
Friluftsliv, Physical education, Equity, Classification, Code
National Category
Research subject
Educational Sciences in Arts and Professions
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38229DOI: 10.1080/00220272.2010.500680ISI: 000289666000007OAI: diva2:308097
Friluftsliv in Swedish Physical Education - a Struggle of Values. Educational and Sociological Perspectives
Available from: 2010-04-06 Created: 2010-04-06 Last updated: 2013-07-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Friluftsliv in Swedish Physical Education – a Struggle of Values: Educational and Sociological Perspectives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Friluftsliv in Swedish Physical Education – a Struggle of Values: Educational and Sociological Perspectives
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to examine some of the educational and sociological conditions underlying the production of teaching in friluftsliv within the Physical Education (PE) subject in Swedish compulsory school. Despite the value awarded to the Scandinavian outdoor practice friluftsliv, in both the national PE curriculum document and in Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) in Sweden, it does not seem to be thoroughly implemented in compulsory school teaching. Through analyses of interviews with PE teachers and PE teacher educators, as well as of curriculum documents, using the perspectives of Basil Bernstein and Pierre Bourdieu, I explore conditions underlying the expressions of friluftsliv teaching in Swedish PE.

The pedagogic discourse for friluftsliv in Swedish PE is described as a teaching that should take place in a natural setting remote from civilisation, involve risks, and require time, technical equipment, financial resources, and cooperation. This discourse for friluftsliv is shown to be similar to the values emphasised in friluftsliv education in PETE. Although proven to be difficult to implement in school, this discourse appear to form the conception of friluftsliv teaching for PE teachers in Sweden. Under the influence of the performance code, friluftsliv is transformed into outdoor activities with which the PE teachers are familiar, or is totally left out of PE teaching.

A turn towards options that are seen as unthinkable in relation to the current pedagogic discourse may benefit the achievement of the aims set out in the national PE curriculum. Values such as environmental awareness, sustainable development and cultural perspectives on the landscape could strengthen the classification of friluftsliv and PE in compulsory school. Further, an increase of socially critical and constructivist perspectives during PETE could make unthinkable options in friluftsliv thinkable and contribute to a break with the reproduction of teaching practices in PE.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Education in Arts and Professions, Stockholm University, 2010. 147 p.
, Studies in Education in Arts and Professions, 2
Friluftsliv, Physical Education, PETE, PE teacher student, PE teacher educator, curriculum, Bourdieu, Bernstein
National Category
Research subject
Educational Sciences in Arts and Professions
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38238 (URN)978-91-7447-034-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-05-07, Aula Konradsberg, Campus Konradsberg, Konradsbergsgatan 7, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: In press. Paper 2: Submitted. Available from: 2010-04-15 Created: 2010-04-06 Last updated: 2010-06-15Bibliographically approved

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