Sisyphus, crisis discourse, and the theory-practice gap in physical education: A polemic

Steven Stolz, Malcolm Thorburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The constant and perennial plea by academics in the field to reform or
change physical education share some similarities with the myth of
Sisyphus from Greek mythology. Just as Sisyphus was condemned to an
eternity of endless frustration of rolling an enormous stone up a
mountain as punishment for trying to be too clever, we argue that if the
physical education profession continues down the path of more of the
same unquestioned assumptions surrounding notions of change will be
tantamount to being condemned like Sisyphus was to the torment of the
stone. Part of the problem as we see it relates to insufficiently rigorous
engagement with theory, and hence why we argue that physical
education could benefit from a shift from a disproportionate focus on
practice or practices to theory as a means to closing the gap between
theory and practice. We do understand that our position may be
uncontroversial to some; however, we equally understand that there will
be many who will find our position controversial in the field. From our
position, this has become an unavoidable problem due to the inherent
way in which the relationship between theory and practice is understood
differently by academics, teachers, and other actors in this context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalSport, Education and Society
Early online date8 May 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Physical Education Curriculum
  • curriculum enrichment
  • educational theory
  • integration
  • practice
  • physical education
  • theory


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