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Ridlärares pedagogiska praktik: En verksamhetsteoretisk studie
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education. Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet, Hippologenheten.
2013 (Swedish)Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Riding Instructors´ Pedagogical Practice : An activity-theoretical study (English)
Abstract [en]

The riding lesson situation is complex and dynamic. Riding instructors must look at both the horse’s and the rider’s actions in order to provide useful and relevant instruction. The aim of this study is to describe and understand riding instructors’ pedagogical practice when giving riding lessons. The theoretical basis for the study is Engeström’s model for studying activity. His analytical model consists of six interrelated ”knots”. The activity system is continuously active through contradictions between the knots, ”knotworking”. These contradictions can occur at four different levels. By studying them we can arrive at an understanding of the structure of an activity system, in this case riding lessons.

Ten riding instructors were interviewed and a number of riding lessons were observed. In collecting data, it was important to capture the use of language in pedagogical terms. The themes that formed the basis of interviews and observations were the concepts of communication, feeling and communication of feeling, as well as the roles of the riding instructor, the pupil and the horse. When the activity model was applied to the data, a number of knots could be observed, with the riding instructor as the subject and the pupil as the object. For example, the tools were horses and instructions. Parents and the riding hall were identified as rules and other riding instructors were the community. Finally, young people assisting the instructors and the pupils with grooming were identified as division of labour.

Many of the statements and actions observed during riding lessons can be summarised in that they reflect a focus on the horse. Some riding instructors state unequivocally that what is most important to them is what is best for the horse. I call this an ”activity system with horse focus”. Another variety of statements and actions from the instructors shows an orientation towards the pupils. The instructors say that they have ambitions to support pupils in their learning. This is what I call an ”activity system with pupil focus”. Finally, there are statements and actions by instructors that can be explained by such things as ignorance, indifference or incompetence. One riding instructor says that there is a considerable amount of routine in her lessons. I call this an ”activity system with routine focus”. In this activity system the objects and goals often change places, unlike what happens in the other two activity systems. For different reasons, occasionally the routine focus switches into the other two activity systems.

Contradictions were seen at four different levels within the three activity systems identified, e.g.: (1) riding instructors wanting to communicate with their pupils about the feeling of riding but lacking the words for it; (2) parents expecting that their child will get the opportunity to ride at every lesson and riding instructors feeling a pressure to meet these expectations even though they believe that the pupils need theory as well as practice; (3) the instructor wanting to improve her teaching but being inhibited by old traditions; and (4) modern teaching methods having developed within the general school system that require pupils to assume a degree of responsibility for their own learning. This stands in contradiction to the controlled riding lesson where pupils do not have much scope for acting on their own.

Riding instructors give priority to the pupils or the horses to different degrees. They often act more or less subconsciously when they give pupils instruction or give them feedback. The horses are at the centre of the riding school and the riding lesson. The horses are a large part of the riding instructors’ everyday life and influential on their thinking about riding instruction. From an educational perspective, however, it would be desirable for instructors to place pupils and their learning at the centre. The need for and importance of pedagogical and didactic education for riding instructors ought to be emphasised. It is a challenge to develop riding lessons with an emphasis on optimising the conditions for pupils’ learning without taking the focus away from the horse and its wellbeing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Hippologenheten, SLU , 2013. , 164 p.
Pedagogisk forskning i Uppsala, ISSN 0348-3630 ; 164
Keyword [en]
Riding instructor, riding lesson, activity theory, pedagogical practice, communication
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-206769ISBN: 978-91-506-2362-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-206769DiVA: diva2:645403
2013-06-04, Blåsenhus, Eva Netzelius-salen, von Kraemers Allé 1, Uppsala, 15:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-09-10 Created: 2013-09-04 Last updated: 2013-09-10Bibliographically approved

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