Systems thinking and physical education: Crossing borders, expanding possibilities

Published on (GMT) by Justen O'Connor
There is an increasing emphasis in physical education for ‘models-based’ approaches that have emerged in response to repeated critiques of exposure or multi-activity approaches. The proliferation of models and more recently hybrid models, reveal an increasing array of foundational ideas with disparate language, making the territory of physical education difficult splintered into pedagogical approaches. This research utilises a particular approach to self-study as way to seek a convergence (where possible) between two similar frameworks for understanding and progressing physical education using holistic and systems-based concepts. By undertaking a structured process of conciliation relating to our own work on either side of the globe, we produce a response for physical education to the proliferation of non-linear systems thinking across a range of disciplines. By exploring synergies between two sympathetic frameworks, one relating to social ecology and one relating to complex systems, we hope to give some clarity to practitioners and researchers who may have previously seen these frameworks, perhaps due to language, as disparate and even separate from other ‘models’ or approaches. As the outcome of a series of deliberate collaborative engagements between the researchers, the paper presents several themes that the authors conclude represent a sound basis for conceiving of a physical education informed by systems thinking with implications for practice.
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