Existential & informal learning: talented youth athletes

Over the past two years, a ground-breaking European-funded project, Learn2, has been taking place to investigate the role of existential and informal learning in the lives of young, talented, pre-elite athletes in Finland. The international, multi-disciplinary research team was led by Dr Noora Ronkainen, University of Jyväskylä and HART Associate Member, funded by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship grant, and the project was supervised by Dr Tatiana Ryba, also of the University of Jyväskylä. The team also included: Prof Kenneth Aggerholm and Prof Lars-Tore Ronglan, both of the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Prof Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, HART, University of Lincoln, and Dr Rob Morris of Liverpool John Moores University.

Youth sport is often promoted as an important context for learning. One of the key areas we wished to investigate was whether the discourse of ‘life skills’, underpinned by ideas of sport-based positive youth development, has unduly narrowed the focus on learning in sport to what is deemed functional, teachable, and economically productive. An existential approach provides a contrasting, non-instrumental theory of learning, with an emphasis on discontinuity, relational self and ‘becoming’ for young athletes. The team has published a range of articles from the project, which can be found on our ResearchGate project site.

An accessible presentation of the key findings is available here: Learn2 FINAL PRESENTATION and a video, produced by Dr Noora Ronkainen, can also be found on YouTube here.

About Prof Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson

Professor in Sociology & Physical Culture, Director of HART, University of Lincoln.

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