School physical education – beyond physical activity

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🇸🇪 Summary in Swedish 


Filip Fröberg
Department of Sport Sciences, Malmö University


This article aims to map and describe the psychological and social impact of physical education (PE) beyond physical activity. To elicit this, the article applies Piaget’s theories of cognitive development and play. Moreover, a summary of a degree project which conducted an intervention study on motor development is utilized. Furthermore, how motor skills, constructivism, educational science, and PE relate to one another is elucidated. The incremental learning requiring previous steps, construction of knowledge through active engagement with the world, and children’s various cognitive demands emerge as conspicuous components. By utilizing Piagetian constructivism, a progressive discourse about the school subject and its teaching is presented. Physical inactivity and absence of play, the necessity of the competent teacher and physical literacy are discussed. From an educational science perspective, explanations of how the content of PE acts for the individual’s psychological and social development are provided, for example through the incorporation of play. Lastly, certain prominent aspects appear; the content of PE is not hollow. Play is deeply rooted in mammals’ brain structure and has a significant implication for children’s cognitive and social development, to which adequate motor skills are necessary for bootstrapping. Thus, attaining physical literacy emerges as the most prominent aspect of teaching in PE. Such acquired knowledge promotes a meta-learning bolstering further individual psychological and social development, well beyond the physical activity inherent in PE.


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FILIP FRÖBERG has a degree of Master of Arts in Upper Secondary Education with the subjects Physical Education and English from Malmö University. Post graduation, he teaches physical education in grade 1–7. Filip has a keen interest in sports pedagogy and educational science aspects of young children’s motor development, particularly the correlation between motor skills, play and cognitive development. He intends to pursue a PhD eventually.

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