Physical Education, Cognition and Agency

Educational Philosophy and Theory 45 (9):921-933 (2013)
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Traditional analytical philosophy of education assigns a peripheral place to physical education, partly because orthodox epistemology finds its cognitive claims implausible. An understandable but dubious response to this state of affairs is the attempt to relocate physical education within the academic curriculum, with its characteristic emphasis on theoretical knowledge and formal assessment. Dissatisfaction with this response suggests an analysis of physical activity in terms of practical knowledge or knowing how, but the results of this seem inconclusive. More recently, the development of neurocomputational and embodied-cognition approaches in cognitive science appears to offer alternative ways of understanding motor skill and physical activity, and thus of rescuing physical education from its marginal status. But these strategies are not unproblematic, particularly where questions of personal agency and motor control are concerned. Examination of these issues prompts a radical reconsideration of the traditional problem of physical education, and consequently of some familiar assumptions in the philosophy of education



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