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Teachers in school sports: Between the fields of education and sport?

Journal article
Authors Magnus Ferry
Published in Sport, Education and Society
Volume 21
Pages 907-923
ISSN 1357-3322
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science
Pages 907-923
Language en
Keywords Bourdieu, Coach competence, Special sports, Sweden, Symbolic capital, Teacher competence
Subject categories Pedagogy, Sport and Fitness Sciences


© 2014 Taylor & Francis. According to the cultural sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, gaining access to a social space or a position within a social space requires a specific capital. For teachers, this is normally indicated by a valid teaching certificate with relevant subject knowledge. However, when no qualified teachers are available, which is the case for the subject of school sports in Sweden, other assets gain recognition. Drawing on Bourdieu's conceptual framework, this paper examined the conditions for school sports in Sweden, and based on questionnaires answered by 109 teachers, explored the competencies, education and backgrounds teachers in upper secondary school sports possess. The paper address the question: what valuable resources are required to become a teacher of school sports and gain recognition as symbolic capital? The results show that while school sports in Sweden are carried out through a school subject and thus regulated by the government, it is influenced by both the fields of education and sport. Furthermore, the questionnaire results show that a majority of the teachers are employed as coaches instead of teachers and that less than half of them (45%) have a teacher education background, while 95% have a coaching education background. However, the results also show that teachers assessed their competencies for teaching school sports as high, especially with regard to competencies in specific sport skills. In conclusion, this paper shows how coaching education and experience in competitive sports are an important resource required to become a teacher in school sports and is thus recognized as symbolic capital. Therefore, school sports cannot be viewed as a legitimate part of the field of education but can be viewed as a part of the field of sport.

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