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ERIC Number: EJ816017
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Jun
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 65
ISSN: ISSN-1740-8989
Beyond Myopic Visions of Education: Revisiting Movement Literacy
Kentel, Jeanne Adele; Dobson, Teresa M.
Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, v12 n2 p145-162 Jun 2007
Background: In the industrialized world opportunities for children to explore movement in active, imaginative ways during free play periods are increasingly threatened for a range of reasons, stemming from caregiver concern for children's safety to the abundance of game technologies that capture the attention of youth. In contrast, Kenya, East Africa, provides indigenous settings wherein children use their unstructured time, in and out of school, to explore and play in active ways. In comparing the two settings, we observe that one problem in the changing childhood environments of the industrialized world is that the value of movement continues to be largely overlooked. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to revisit discourses that promote mind-body connection, such as physical literacy, or, as we phrase it, movement literacy. We hope to engage educators in conversations respecting how we might practically and theoretically dissolve the boundaries between body and mind with a view to exploring curricular structures and pedagogical methodologies that promote holistic approaches to learning. Setting: This inquiry is part of a larger study that took place in Kenya, East Africa, where movement and dance exist as authentic cultural and aesthetic expression. Participants: Data collection took place primarily in national Kenyan schools (N = 14), which included public (N = 8) and private (N = 6) institutions located in urban (N = 6), suburban (N = 3), and rural (N = 5) settings. Research design: This study was qualitative in its design. Four representative cases were identified within the larger dataset, each of which demonstrates the significance of movement literacy in games and dance among the Kenyan children. These are referred to as "movement texts". An hermeneutical approach, involving interpretation and reinterpretation of data from multiple sources, was employed in data analysis. Data collection: Children's dance, games, and other forms of movement were videotaped. The movement experiences of children and adults were also explored through observations, interviews, and the personal reflections of the participants. Formal interviews occurred with head teachers (N = 8), teachers (N = 5), students (N = 9), a dance director (N = 1), a professional dancer (N = 1), and a cultural expert (N = 1). These were tape-recorded and transcribed for analysis. Dialogue in the context of the video material was transcribed as well. Less formal conversations also transpired with many teachers and students. These were recorded in field notes and a research journal. Data analysis: Data from this range of sources--videotape, audiotape, field notes, journals, and written anecdotes--were compiled and interpreted. Analysis entailed close readings of interview transcripts in relation to video materials, field notes, and so on. Every attempt was made to relate the apparent meaning of an action or statement to the world-view from which it originated. Findings: Our review of data suggested that the most original, inventive learning took place in the playing fields during unstructured time. The absences of formal structures and manufactured toys afforded children the opportunity to create and explore. They invented their own technologies (e.g. footballs made from rubbish bound with a fibrous plant), explored and negotiated gender boundaries, and were constantly on the move. Their activities presented a marked contrast to the behaviours we were familiar with in observing children in industrialized nations in the context of their schools, homes, and community play areas. Conclusions: Observing the contrast between the schoolroom and the playing fields led us to contemplate the fundamental icon of schooling across many cultures: the desk. The desk as a technology for learning is a contrivance aimed at controlling movement and attention in whichever setting it inhabits. As such, it points to the premise underlying education in many cultures: to learn we must be still. Watching the Kenyan children combine learning with movement in a variety of settings sends a message to educators in industrialized nations where a variety of factors are conspiring to limit opportunities for children to move and play freely. The message is this: we must redouble our efforts to engage in holistic methods of education; we must make space within our curricula for movement; we must oppose efforts to remove free play periods such as recess; we must focus on educating caregivers and teachers across disciplines respecting the importance of active play and learning; we must engage children in conversations about their play choices with a view to improving our understanding of the complex interdependencies of movement and learning. Finally, and most importantly, we must stress the inherent value of movement and free play, not only as a means to an educational end, but as an end in itself. (Contains 9 figures.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Kenya