Losing touch – Teachers’ self-regulation in physical education
(2017) European Physical Education Review, 23 (3), pp. 297-310.
The question of physical interaction is especially relevant in school physical education, where a lot of the teaching and activities are based on body movements. However, the issue of ‘touching’ has been questioned in recent years. This paper takes its starting point in the discourse of child protection and the growing anxiety around intergenerational touch in educational settings. The purpose is to examine PE teachers’ self-regulation in relation to the child protection discourse and no touch policies. What sort of strategies have the teachers developed for dealing with physical contact in their teaching? It is a matter of problematising teachers’ pedagogical interactions in PE practice. The study takes its starting point in a discourse-analytical tradition using a methodology based on Foucault’s ideas about governmentality. Twenty-three teachers (10 women and 13 men) aged 30–63 and at different stages in their careers were interviewed. The results show two different self-regulating processes: (1) adaptation using avoidance-oriented strategies and (2) resistance using downplaying-oriented strategies. The paper discusses potential consequences for PE teachers’ pedagogical work if they feel that they have to protect themselves instead of operating in a way that is in the best interest for students’ learning and development. The study aims to contribute to the literature on child protection and ‘no touch’ policies and to a more multifaceted understanding of physical interaction in PE. © 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.
Foucault; Physical education; physical interaction; self-regulation; touching