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Friluftsliv: a contribution to equity and democracy in Swedish Physical Education? An analysis of codes in Swedish Physical Education curricula

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During the last decade, expanding research investigating the 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 the educational sociologist, Basil Bernstein, I claim that Swedish PE teachers' marginalized 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.

Keywords: Friluftsliv; classification; code; equity; physical education

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Stockholm University, Department of Education in Arts and Professions, Stockholm, S-10691 Sweden

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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