Arnold wanted X but we got Y–the Queensland senior physical education syllabus application of the Arnoldian perspective

Brendan SueSee, Shane Pill, John Williams

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For over two decades, the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) has used Arnold’s tri-dimensional perspective of movement (1979, 1988) as a framework for its senior Physical Education (PE) syllabus documents (1998, 2004, 2010, and 2018). As the most recent version, the Queensland Senior Physical Education Syllabus-2019 (QSPES) cites Arnold’s perspective as ‘a philosophical and educative framework to promote deep learning in three dimensions: about, through and in movement contexts’ (QCAA Citation2018, 1), it is reasoned these principles will be evident throughout this Australian state syllabus.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the claimed adherence to the Arnoldian perspective in the QSPES (QCAA Citation2018) as stated in its curriculum intention statement (see QCAA Citation2018, 1).

The authors suggest that a reinterpretation of Arnold’s intention has occurred in the application of his perspective to the QSPES (QCAA Citation2018) and suggest what may occur as a consequence of this reinterpretation.

We conclude by discussing the potential effects of this reoriented view of Arnold’s perspective on students, teachers, and PE in general. The discussion highlights a familiar story of PE attempting to legitimise itself through science and academia and how in most cases the warnings against such validation have fallen on deaf ears.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Early online date16 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Oct 2023


  • Arnold
  • syllabus
  • slippage
  • academicisation


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