Potential interpretations and consequences for the teaching practice: a linguistic analysis of Swedish Physical Education and Health curricula

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Katarina Lundin, Susanne Linnér & Katarina Schenker
Linnæus University, Växjö, Sweden


As all school subjects, the content of Physical Education and Health (PEH) is regulated by curricula and syllabi. For the Swedish school subject PEH, the knowledge requirements are described as particularly difficult to precise, and the content equally hard to legitimate. In addition, The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (2018) states that ball games dominate in class, and that logics of competition and activities that relate to ranking are risky from a health perspective. We have used linguistic tools from the systemic-functional linguistics (SFL, Halliday & Matthiessen 2014) to study which content PEH teachers can choose, based on the linguistic expressions used in the syllabi, and which consequences the options have for the content of their teaching. The analysis shows that the crucial parts with respects to content is presented deep down in the syntactic structure, which means that the content is not linguistically prominent. In addition, the curriculum is characterised by abstraction. In brief, the linguistic expressions used in the curriculum open up for several and different interpretations regarding the content of the subject.

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KATARINA LUNDIN is an Associate Professor in Scandinavian Linguistics, Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University, and Guest Researcher at the Department of Sport Science, Linnaeus University, Sweden. Her research is focused on language use in sport contexts inside and outside school, on the one hand, and grammar and applied linguistics, on the other. In addition, she is involved with Swedish teacher education at Lund University.

SUSANNE LINN√ČR¬†is a Senior Lecturer at Linnaeus University, Sweden. Her research is within the field of Health and Physical Education teacher education and also about social justice,¬†sustainability¬†and leadership¬†in sport. She has run professional development courses for teachers on social justice and has been consulted by the Ministry of Education and the teachers‚Äô union on issues of professional ethics and curriculum development.

KATARINA SCHENKER is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sport Science at Linnaeus University, Sweden. Her research concerns school Health and Physical Education (HPE), HPE teacher education and also the Swedish Sports Movement. Her interests are mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion in relation to democracy, equity and social justice. She studies ontological and epistemological-related decisions in the schooling context


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