General description of research question, objectives and theoretical framework
The past two decades have seen a huge increase in the number of students enrolling in higher education in Sweden. There are several reasons for this: many of the degree programmes have been extended, resulting in students remaining in the system longer than previously; the number of degree programmes to choose from has increased; and there are new higher education institutions (HEIs). Socially speaking, the expansion has led to a huge influx of groups that had not previously studied at university—from a meritocratic perspective, this change has resulted in a growing number of students with poor qualifications (Broady, Börjesson & Bertilsson 2009: 12). The teacher training programme has, however, seen a very modest increase in the number of students. The 1971/72 academic year saw 9,500 student teachers accepted, which constituted 40 per cent of the intake. Today’s 11,000 student teachers only make up 17 per cent of the higher education intake (Bertilsson 2009). What has dramatically changed is the oversubscription to teacher training programmes. At the beginning of the 1980s, there were approximately ten applicants per place compared with at present just over one per place. The percentage of male applicants to teacher training programmes has for the past decade remained around the 20 per cent mark (Swedish National Agency for Higher Education [HSV] 2012). One possible explanation for the teacher training programme being less oversubscribed is that it has faced ever-greater competition from other higher education programmes. Another might be the mass media’s portrayal and the constant criticism of schools and that nowadays teaching is classed as a low-status profession. This might explain why, compared with other university programmes, the teacher training programme has the largest percentage of students whose parents have no higher education experience (Börjesson & Broady 2004; Börjesson 2004; Statistics Sweden [SCB] HSV 2009, 2010; Larsson 2009). The question of interest here is what has happened to the recruiting within the Swedish teacher training programme in recent decades (Bertilsson 2009).
In this context, the recruiting to the Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) programme is also of interest. For more than 150 years, there was only one PETE programme in Sweden, namely the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics founded by Per Henrik Ling. In 1966, a sister organization was founded, this time in the city of Örebro, both came under the same organizational unit and were known collectively as the Stockholm University College of Physical Education and Sports (GIH). From the latter half of the 1980s until 2001, the number of HEIs offering a PETE programme increased to sixteen as a result of various teacher training reforms (Meckbach & Wedman 2007). This number has now decreased and as of 2011 there are only seven HEIs entitled to award the degree of Bachelor of Education in Physical Education.
The aim of this study is to describe the student PE teachers in Sweden, with focus on their dispositions in terms of experiences, resources and tastes.
To be able to study student PE teachers’ dispositions, resources and tastes, we take Bourdieu’s theories and concepts as our starting point. In Bourdieu’s thoughts on how the social world is constructed, groups’ social background, experiences and ways of living influence their choices and actions. Bourdieu (1984) was surprised that even though we are able to freely choose and feel that we do so, we, nevertheless, to such a great extent, make choices according to the social context we have grown up in and have experiences of. Using Bourdieu’s theoretical concepts makes it possible to examine the students’ tastes, practices and lifestyles.
The data has been collected as follows: the student PE teachers in Sweden that run a PETE programme answered a questionnaire with thirty-five questions. Apart from the background information, the questionnaire contained questions about the studies and the students’ leisure habits. The vast majority were closed questions, where the respondents were asked to give one answer. For a small number of questions, it was possible to give more than one answer. The data has been analysed using statistical methods chosen based on the study’s questions. In total, 208 students participated in the study.
Those students who began studying PETE in the autumn of 2011 can be described as a pretty homogeneous group that, nevertheless, differentiates itself from the average student teacher in a number of respects. For example, in the group studied a little over 60% are men compared with approximately 20% for the whole group of student teachers. In terms of age, half of the group are between 21 and 25 years old. The majority of the students have completed a preparatory upper secondary programme, of which just over 40% have completed a programme specializing in sport. Approximately 60% of the students have one or two parents with a university or higher education.
Before starting their PETE programme, just over 10% of the students had experience of working at a school. As for having experience of sport, just over three-quarters say that they have such experience and almost three-quarters also have experience of being a coach within the Swedish sports movement.
In their free time, the students mainly do sports, see their friends, use the Internet for various things, watch videos and TV, and see their family. However, there is little interest in, for example, politics and culture.
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