Forms Of Pedagogy: a Comparative Study With Greek And Swedish Physical Education Teachers

Por: Claes Annerstedt, Goran Patriksson e Konstantin Kougioumtzis.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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The intensification of internalization processes within the European Community during recent years includes, among others, scientific projects focusing, not only on various educational systems, but on specific school subjects as well. Aiming at an understanding of various pedagogical processes in different European cultural contexts, this project concentrates on a comparison between forms of pedagogy facilitated by physical education (PE) teachers in Greek (GR) and Swedish (SE) primary and secondary schools. More specifically, we studied forms of pedagogy as indicated by the control of PE teachers on expected outcomes in terms of usage of various criteria when evaluating (grading) pupils. In order to discuss such issues we utilize Basil Bernstein’s concepts of visible and invisible pedagogy [1,2]. According to Bernstein within a visible pedagogy the various evaluation criteria tend to be precise and explicitly formulated whether within forms of invisible pedagogy the various criteria are hidden or at least not explicitly articulated. Both forms of pedagogy can be used in order to construct and reproduce dominant or legitimate outcomes.


The methodological approach of the study is that of a convergent type, combining nationwide surveys with in depth semi-structured interviews in each country. The instruments of the survey have been developed with considerations on Bernstein’s theoretical contribution. Discussions with scholars and teachers as minor pilot studies in each country have been adopted in order to improve the validity and reliability of the instruments. The improved versions of the questionnaires (5-Likert-scaled) were sent to 600 stratified randomly sampled schools in Greece as well as in Sweden during the autumn 2003 with PE teachers as the final receivers. The final sample consisted of 449 one-subject PE teachers in Greece and 707 one- and two subjects PE teachers in Sweden. At the same time 5(8) in depth semi-structured interviews (lasted on average 45 min) have been conducted with PE teachers in each country.


Table 1. Usage of explicitly articulated evaluation criteria

  SE   GR     SE GR  
  M SD M SD sig YES YES Sig
Taking into account various tests 2.93 .969 2.55 1.23 .000      
Taking into account pupils´ behavior 3.07 .948 3.36 .934 .000      
Discussions upon evaluation criteria 3.31 .722 3.70 .579 .000      
Usage of various lists with pupils´ results 2.20 1.192 2.64 1.253 .000      
Criteria associated with gymnastics           38% 27% .000
Criteria associated with ball games           21% 86% .000
Criteria associated with dance           18% 45% .000
Criteria associated with track and fields           49% 64% .000
Criteria associated with physical condition           50% 71% .000

Table 2. Two quotations from the interviews

Greek PE Teacher answering a question about pupils´ comments on grades (20 graded scale) The most usual complaint has to do with pupils asking why they haven’t got a 20 in PE instead of 19. I usually answer that the two grades are in practice the same and in order to improve, they should consider small details in their behavior and performance.
Swedish PE Teacher answering a question on grades
(4 grades, Fail -  Pass - Pass with  distinction - Pass with excellence)
The current health related curriculum gives every pupil a chance to have good grades... On March or April every year, starting from the 8th year pupils note on a diary their physical activities during their free time. I check it calling their parents or their coaches... Active participation in school and an active lifestyle is fair enough for a pass with distinction.

Discussion / Conclusions

1. Overwhelming visible pedagogies characterizes Greek PE, probably fostering culturally and politically correct evaluation mentalities (standards, efficiency, accountability). Eventually this visible pedagogy reinforces the competitive spirit of masculine identities.

2. Overwhelming invisible pedagogies characterizes Swedish PE, probably fostering culturally and politically correct evaluation mentalities (social citizenship). Eventually this invisible pedagogy hides the dominant regulative discourse (e.g. behaving appropriately according to the values of dominant groups) and complicates the recognition and realization of highly valued, legitimate behaviors and performances.


  1. Bernstein, B. (1990). The structuring of pedagogic discourse, London, Routledge.
  2. Bernstein, B. (1996). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity, London, Taylor & Francis.



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