Physical education’s grand convergence: Fitnessgram®, big-data and the digital commerce of children’s health
Pluim, C & Gard, M in press, 'Physical education’s grand convergence: Fitnessgram®, big-data and the digital commerce of children’s health', Critical Studies in Education.
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Fitnessgram® is a digital platform designed to help physical education teachers measure, record, disseminate and analyse the results of school-based student fitness testing. Despite important questions about the ethics, educational value and costs of Fitnessgram®, it is now widely used in the United States and is spreading to other countries. In this empirically investigative study, we draw on academic studies and commentary, media stories, government and funding body reports, press releases and advertisements to describe the emergence of Fitnessgram® and the convergence of factors that appear to guarantee the programme’s increasing ubiquity. We also discuss the various ways the data sets built by Fitnessgram® may reshape the practice and purpose of physical education as well how young people understand their own health in light of this. In the face of puzzling academic silence on the Fitnessgram® phenomena, this paper stimulates lines of critical academic enquiry about the financial self-interest, educational shortcomings and policy implications that its rise suggests.