Teachers in the school subject Health and Physical Education (HPE) need to be able both to teach health and to do so in a healthy (equitable) way. The health field has, however, met with difficulties in finding its form within the subject. Research indicates that HPE can be excluding, meaning that it may give more favours to some pupils (bodies) than to others [cf. Webb, L. A., Quennerstedt, M., & Öhman, M. (2008). Healthy bodies: Construction of the body and health in physical education. Sport, Education and Society, 13(4), 353–372.; Webb, L., & Quennerstedt, M. (2010). Risky bodies: Health surveillance and teachers’ embodiment of health. QSE. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 23(7), 785–802; Williamson, B. (2015). Algorithmic skin: Health-tracking technologies, personal analytics and the biopedagogies of digitized health and physical education. Sport, Education and Society, 20(1), 133–151], and thereby being unhealthy for unfavoured pupils. The purpose of this study is therefore to investigate how HPE teacher education students in Sweden interpret health in HPE and discuss possible implications for future education in the school subject. The study involves 81 Bachelor/Master theses, connected to the HPE school subject and examined at six different Swedish universities. All the student theses were examined in 2012. Of the identified theses, 30 can be related more or less directly to health in physical education. These are the ones further scrutinized here. The contents of the selected essays may be categorized on the basis of tests as tools to measure health/ill health/performance, the knowledge required to teach health and also health as part of pedagogy. In sum, the theses display a reproductive approach to the subject, which involves the risk that the subject will subsequently function as disciplining, standardizing and excluding for some pupils, especially for those who do not engage in sports in their leisure time. In order to develop HPE’s potential into becoming healthier and more equal, researchers, teacher education and teachers do not primarily need to perceive health from the activity and individual perspectives, but rather from a power relations and equity perspective aiming towards equality.
Health and Physical Education, HPE, physical education teacher education, PETE, thesis, equity, Bildung