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Research projects

Learning to move differently: Developing a non-dualistic theory of movement learning (MOVE project)

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress


Dean Barker

The aim of the MOVE project is to develop a new theory of movement learning. This aim is motivated by the fact that current theories of movement learning reinforce dualistic perspectives by separating mind and body, and/or privilege narrow ways of moving based on elite sports performance. Learners with special needs or little experience of mainstream sports are disadvantaged by framing movement learning in this way. We have been exploring the meanings people attach to movement learning using theoretical perspectives of Gilbert Ryle (Ryle, 2009) and Michael Polanyi (Polanyi, 1969, 2002). Results so far suggest that: (1) movement patterns often have a crux – what we have termed a ‘corporeal threshold’ – that needs to be grasped before learners can identify as competent movers; (2) emotions such as joy, fear and frustration are inextricably connected to different aspects of the process of movement learning; (3) gender norms affect how boys and girls approach the process of movement learning; (4) movement patterns have various aspects such as ‘rhythm’, ‘preparation’, and ‘positioning’ that constitute knowing in that pattern, and; (5) as learners come to know movement patterns, they engage in different activities such as experimenting, reflecting, and observing. Key here appears to be that learners alternate between activities if they are to learn.


Research funding bodies

  • Swedish Research Council