Understanding the rationale for preschool physical education: implications for practitioners’ and children's embodied practices and subjectivity formation

Nollaig Mcevilly, Matthew Atencio, Martine Verheul, Michael Jess

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Abstract / Description of output

This paper provides an overview of selected academic research literature that underpins contemporary preschool physical education. We highlight and interrogate diverse rationales and beliefs that serve to influence and structure preschool physical education in various forms. We speculate as to how preschool practitioners and children might engage in specific practices relative to these discourses. Our consideration of preschool physical education discourses relies upon a Foucaultian analysis of the major techniques of power and also raises possibilities of conceptualising subjectivity formation through his concept of the ‘technologies of the self’. Discourses related to motor skill development, play and physical activity, in particular, appear to be prevalent in the selected literature, along with a related pedagogical discourse concerning ‘structure and freedom’. These sometimes competing discourses arguably underpin competing agendas reflecting those who advocate supporting children's free play and those who propose more structured and interventionist practices in relation to young children's physical activity. We conclude that these diverse approaches lend themselves to interpretation and negotiation in the context of preschool physical education, with specific consequences for the embodied experiences and subjectivities of preschool practitioners and children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalSport, Education and Society
Early online date8 Aug 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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