Neither flower child nor artiste be: aesthetics, ability and physical education

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Gard, M 2006, 'Neither flower child nor artiste be: aesthetics, ability and physical education', Sport, Education and Society, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 231-241.

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This paper examines the meaning of ability in the context of dance education, in part, via the lens of aesthetic education, a reasonably well-developed body of ideas, and asks what it means to be ‘aesthetically able’. While aesthetic education tends to focus on aesthetic appreciation, it does also deal with a person's capacity to respond to the world in aesthetic ways. But as well as trying to clarify what ability might mean from an aesthetic point of view, this paper also engages with Evans’ (2004) agenda setting paper in which he challenges the field of physical education to refocus discussion on the ways we conceptualise ability and, by extension, how our educational practices are shaped by our ideas about ability. For aesthetics and dance, I take this as a challenge to think about whether ‘aesthetic ability’ is valued in physical education and what kinds of abilities or (as Evans might say) ‘capital’ are privileged in different approaches to teaching dance and physical education

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