“It’s fun but at the same time difficult” : Experiences of and perspectives on children’s participation in decision-making processes in Physical Education and Health
, Susanna Hedenborg
- Cappelen Damm Akademisk
Swedish compulsory school education rests upon the foundation of democracy, and the Curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and school-age educare 2011 (Skolverket, 2018) stresses that children should have the opportunity to take initiatives. Research shows that children are not able to have any influence on activities in Physical Education and Health (PEH). Usually, they have to follow the teacher’s instructions and reproduce specific movement patterns. This article discusses a research project that challenged traditional ways of teaching PEH, in order to give 10-year-old children the opportunity to have an influence on PEH. The project involved 10 circus lessons in which the children were encouraged to explore movement and put their own ideas into practice. In terms of theory, the approach is based on Hart’s (1997) Ladder of Children’s Participation. Data were collected through participant observations, video observations, interviews, and a field diary. The results show that the children participated in varying degrees and experienced attempts to increase their influence in different ways: Some found it fun and free, while others found it difficult and boring. One important conclusion is that influence and participation need to be practised – both by children and by teachers. Circus activities, because of the playfulness and creativity involved, may be very suited to practising influence and participation.