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What is complex in complex movement? A discourse analysis of conceptualizations of movement in the Swedish physical education curriculum

Journal article
Authors L. Janemalm
M. Quennerstedt
Dean Barker
Published in European Physical Education Review
Volume 25
Issue 4
Pages 1146-1160
ISSN 1356-336X
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science
Pages 1146-1160
Language en
Keywords Complex movement, curriculum transformation, discourse analysis, physical education, nonlinear pedagogy, teachers, policy, Education & Educational Research
Subject categories Pedagogy


In 2011, the Swedish National Agency for Education introduced a new national curriculum. The curriculum contained a number of new terms. One in particular proved problematic for physical educators - complex movement. The confusion surrounding the term could be seen as somewhat unexpected since movement is and has been a central element of practically all physical education (PE) curricula. The specific aim of this paper is to identify how the discourse regarding complex movement is assembled, and by doing so, provide insights into the meaning(s) of complex movement within the context of PE policy in Sweden. Following Englund and Quennerstedt (2008), the study is framed within a Swedish curriculum theory tradition and six policy texts are examined using a discourse analytic methodology. The results suggest three different inferences of complex movement discourse: advanced with a wide meaning; context-dependent and related to sports for older pupils; and knowledge-dependent where different views about knowledge exist. From these results, three discussion points are raised related to: the diversity of possible meanings presented in policy; the connection between knowledge and understanding; and the probability of different audiences reading the texts in different ways. The paper is concluded with a consideration of the consequences of different inferences concerning complex movement and whether greater consensus is necessary.

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