Deakin University

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Capturing the moment: understanding embodied interactions in early primary physical education

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-29, 06:01 authored by C Smee, C Luguetti, R Spaaij, B McDonald
Background: Several studies demonstrate the benefits of understanding explicit and tacit embodied interactions in physical education (PE). However, there is little research that explores the embodied interactions that occur in early primary PE classes (years 1 and 2), where children (are socialized to) embody various body values, attitudes and stigma. We adopted a micro-sociological approach to examine the embodied interactions of a group of early primary school children. The study provides new insight into how primary age children embody the world around them in their PE interactions and the impact this embodiment has on them and on their peers. Purpose: Using a micro-sociological approach, the aim of this study was to examine the embodied interactions of a group of year 1 and 2 children (ages 6–8) in PE classes. Participants and settings: The study was conducted at a public primary school in Australia over a six-month period. The lessons were filmed by the lead author, yielding a total of 12 h and 21 min of footage. Observer XT, a systematic observation programme, was utilized to aid in the coding, management and analysis of observational data, allowing for the creation of multiple coding schemes. Findings: The findings highlighted two distinct themes. First, competition, which involved the constant comparison of performance between the children. Second, skill mastery, which involved the children engaging in acts that displayed their advanced understanding of how to perform certain skills. While the emphasis on competition and skill mastery has been echoed across PE literature, this study showed how those with the most cultural resources (sport experience and physical capital) were able to embody these goals to produce high levels of emotional energy during Interactional Rituals. The findings also indicated the pedagogical implications of these micro-moments. The implementation of an approach characterized by a lack of differentiation and minimal teacher intervention created an environment ripe for embodied engagement in competition and skill mastery. Implications: The micro-sociological approach provided a unique insight into how primary age children are embodying the world around them in their PE interactions and the impact this embodiment is having on themselves and their peers. This approach also provides insight into the pedagogical implications of this embodiment, and highlights the need for more creative and/or student-centred pedagogies in primary PE.



Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy














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