The concept of movement and its social ecology

Year: 2008

Author: Brown, Trent, Payne, Phillip

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There is a pressing need in educational discourse for the ongoing development of the concept of movement and practices of movement education as both imply alternative pedagogies in, at least, physical education, sport/coaching/fitness leadership and outdoor education. Movement is basic to bodily practices but this primacy is not well appreciated in the current education literature and health promotion discourses.

As we see it, the challenge for teacher education research is to develop philosophical, theoretical and empirical understandings about the centrality of movement experiences so that future educators and professionals concerned about health and wellbeing promotion can critically examine their current practices and policies. A revitalized notion of movement, and the various contexts in which movement occurs, will enable deeper consideration of how the discourses of physical education, human movement and outdoor education might be reconceptualized in school-based pedagogies and related community development initiatives in sports and outdoor recreations.

To be sure, movement, both situationally and contextually, is inextricably linked to the affordances, enablements and constraints of the various environments that spatially and geographically influence the human and social experience of movement. In addition to the spatialities of movement, their geographies also shape how communities act as the 'driver' of social and environmental capital and their sustainability. The phenomenological, or 'micro' study of the body in movement provides a window through which the social, cultural and ecological 'world' might also be examined.

This social ecology of movement therefore addresses at different levels the relationships between human, social, built and natural environments - a prerequisite for the promotion of health, wellbeing and sustainability .

In this paper, we focus on the qualities and intricacies of movement and therefore their contribution to the education of the practitioner, be it physical/outdoor education teacher, recreation planner or health promotion professional. Drawing upon the literature from the phenomenology of movement in physical education, it is timely that we identify the 'other' qualities, characteristics and 'wild' dimensions of movement. The revitalisation of movement and movement education may partially contribute to intelligent responses to the deficit-discourses and rhetoric about lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and physical inactivity.

Our task is to locate the 'alternative' literature in physical education about movement from the past 15 years into a broader, non-reductionist theoretical framework of social ecology that informs pedagogical and curriculum inquiry and critical research development. To those ends our initial aim here is to outline a spatialisation of movements and its phenomenologies as part of a broader geography of movement and physical activity, That is our interest here is in formulating a social ecology of movement education and in doing so, make a unique contribution to physical, outdoor, health and environmental education discourses.