‘Pedagogy as text’: a lens to examine boys’ experiences of physical education with a female teacher in an all-boys’ school

Year: 2013

Author: Mooney, Amanda, Hickey, Chris

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


It was over twenty years ago that Gore (1990) posed the notion of ‘pedagogy of text’ as a lens through which to examine the effectiveness of her own teaching practices as a physical education teacher educator and to explore the ways in which her students engaged with the lesson.  Informed by Foucault’s (1980, 1983) theorising on disciplinary power, Gore’s presentation and analysis of a physical education lesson scenario as a ‘pedagogical text’ provided the theoretical tools to go beyond merely a ‘preferred’ reading of pedagogy as a technocratic process and open up multiple ways in which to ‘read’ these interactions.  Gore’s interpretations acknowledged that student experiences of pedagogy can become a process of negotiation and/or a struggle over meaning and further identified that social and historical discourses often perpetuate particular relations of power that impact on pedagogical interactions.
In this paper we acknowledge the concept of pedagogy as concerned with the process of knowledge and truth production through interrelationships between the teacher, the learner and the curriculum/content.  After Gore (1990), we also argue that the socio-political context in which these interactions take place can act to legitimate (and perpetuate) particular pedagogical approaches that privilege some students, whilst simultaneously marginalising others.
Drawing on research into a Year 8 all-boys’ physical education lesson with a female teacher, this paper presents a scenario of a golf lesson through a ‘pedagogy as text’ lens to examine the ways in which the socio-political discourses of hypermasculinity and heteronormativity operating in this all-boys’ school can act to produce ‘gendered’ power relations.  This analysis unpacks the ways in which these power relations shape both the female teacher’s and her students’ constructions of what counts as valued and legitimate knowledge in physical education.  Further, this approach provides a lens through which to examine the ways in which her students responded to a particular pedagogical encounter.
The specific scenario, produced from interview data with students and video-stimulated reflections of the teacher after the lesson, provides a powerful tool for the deconstruction of taken-for-granted truths in all-boys’ physical education.  We argue that through a consideration of the ways in which particular techniques of power take carriage in certain pedagogical practices, we can begin to conceive of pedagogies that go beyond perpetuating less than positive experiences for some students of physical education.