Browsing Research from April 2016 by Department
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Conceptualising social justice and sociocultural issues within physical education teacher education: international perspectivesBackground: Physical education (PE) and physical education teacher education (PETE) have a substantial literature base that advocates for students to develop a critical consciousness, appreciate multiple perspectives, and engage in actions to enhance social justice (Tinning 2016). Analysing sociocultural issues, critically reflecting on beliefs, knowledge, biography and values, and developing a sense of agency to enact change, have been recognised as an integral part of the PETE knowledge base for some time (Fernández-Balboa 1997). However, there remain differences in how social justice itself is conceptualised and enacted. Social justice is aligned heavily with critical and ‘post’ theories where taking action for justice, democracy and power are central; but social justice is also found in humanist beliefs in student-centredness and equality and has been co-opted by neoliberal forces that promote individual responsibility. While a lack of consensus is not in itself a problem (Bialystok 2014), diverse definitions might contribute to confusion (Randall and Robinson 2016) and lead to uncertainty over what and how to teach for social justice. Purpose: In order to work towards greater certainty around concepts of social justice in the PETE community, this project sought to map variations in definition and conceptualisation of social justice and sociocultural issues among physical education teacher educators (PETEs) and physical education and sport pedagogy (PESP) educators, as part of a wider project on social justice and sociocultural perspectives and practices in PETE. Methods: PETE and PESP faculty (n=72) in North America, Europe, and Australasia engaged in an in-depth interview, during which they were asked how they define social justice and sociocultural issues. Additional information about participants’ social identity was collected. A constant comparative method of analysing participants’ definitions mapped a range of concepts building on the theoretical framework of neoliberal, humanist, critical and ‘post’ approaches to social justice. Findings: The data demonstrate that there are a range of understandings about sociocultural issues and social justice. Most commonly, some participants articulated a humanist approach to social justice by encouraging their pre-service teachers (PSTs) to have awareness of equality of opportunity in relation to gender, sexuality and/or racism. Less prevalent, but strongly stated by those who conceptualised social justice in these terms, was the importance to take action for democracy, empowerment or critical reflection. The terms diversity and equality, framed in neoliberal and humanist discourses, were most commonly used within the United States (US), while critical pedagogy and alignment with critical and ‘post’ theories were more prevalent in Australia and New Zealand. Conclusion: Differences exist in the ways social justice is conceptualised in PETE. While this can be attributed to the influence of local issues, it is also reflective of what intellectual tools, such as humanism or critical theory, are available for problematising social issues. The range of non-critical concepts found raises concern that PSTs are not getting the tools to enact social justice or tackle sociocultural issues.
How PETE comes to matter in the performance of social justice educationBackground: For over four decades there have been calls for physical education (PE) and physical education teacher education (PETE) to address social inequality and foster social justice. Yet, as numerous studies demonstrate, attempts to educate for social justice in PETE are infrequent and rarely comprehensive. This raises the question why it appears to be possible in some situations but not others, and for some students and not others. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the multiple socio-political networks or assemblages in which PETE is embedded and explore how these shape the possibilities for students to engage with the concept of social justice and sociocultural issues when learning to teach PE. Two research questions guided this study: How does an orientation for social justice education within education policy affect the standards for enacting PETE programs? How is social justice education encouraged within PETE programs? Methodology: Methodology: Drawing from a broader study of over 70 key personnel in more than 40 PETE programs, we examined how faculty in PETE understand their professional world, identify their subjective meanings of their experiences, and address sociocultural issues (SCI) and social justice education (SJE) within PETE. Data sources included an initial survey, a semi-structured interview, and program artifacts. We analyze the ways that SJE/SCI was represented in three national settings (England, the United States, and New Zealand) and identified common themes. Results: Examination of each national setting reveals ways that SJE and SCI were enabled and constrained across the national, programmatic, and individual level in each of the countries. The coherence of explicit National policy and curricula, PETE program philosophies, and the presence of multiple individual interests in social justice served to reify a sociocultural agenda. Conversely possibilities were nullified by narrow or general National Standards, programs that failed to acknowledge sociocultural interests, and the absence of a critical mass of actors with a socio-critical orientation. These differences in assemblage culminated in variations in curriculum time that served to restrict or enable the breadth, frequency, and consistency of the messages surrounding SCI in PETE Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of acknowledging socio-political networks where PETE operates. The agency of PETEs to enact pedagogies that foreground sociocultural interests is contingent on congruity of the networks. The authors caution that although the ‘perfect storm’ of conditions have a profound influence of the possibility of transformational learning of SCI in PETE, this arrangement is always temporary, fluid, and subject to changes in any of the three network levels. Additionally, the success of PETE in enabling graduating PE teachers to recognize the inequities that may be reinforced through the ‘hidden curriculum’ and to problematize the subject area is contingent on the expectations of the schools in which they teach.
Implicit and explicit pedagogical practices related to sociocultural issues and social justice in physical education teacher education programsBackground: For many years, scholars in PETE have argued for the importance of educating pre-service teachers (PSTs) about equality (e.g., Evans 1990), sociocultural perspectives and issues (e.g., Cliff, Wright and Clarke, 2009; Author 2014) and critical pedagogy (e.g., Fernandez-Balboa 1997; Philpot 2015). Despite this advocacy, we would argue that there are significant differences in how faculty teach about sociocultural issues, and for, social justice. The pedagogical actions through which Physical Education Teacher Educators (PETEs) do this work is the focus of this paper. Purpose: We investigated the pedagogical approaches and strategies used by PETE faculty to address and educate PSTs about social justice and sociocultural issues related to gender, race, sexuality, (dis)ability, socioeconomic status and religion in their individual PETE programs. In this study, we draw on transformational pedagogy (Ukpokodu 2009; Ovens 2017) as a framework for theorizing the data. Through this study, we highlight the pedagogical practices espoused as those that engender transformative learning. Data collection and analysis: Data for this interpretive qualitative research study was collected primarily through in-depth semi-structured interviews with over 70 PETEs who work in 48 PETE programs across Australia, Canada, England, Ireland New Zealand, Sweden, and the United States. Furthermore, an informational survey was used to gather demographic data of the participants. The participants, all current PETEs, had a wide range of professional experiences, which included the length of time in the profession, the type of institution employed, educational backgrounds and courses taught. Data analysis was completed using the processes of content analysis and the constant comparative method (Corbin and Strauss 2008). Findings: Three major themes represent the findings. In the first theme, ‘Intentional and Explicit Pedagogies’ we provide descriptions of the approaches and strategies used by PETEs in this study that were planned in advance of the learning experiences. In the second theme, ‘Teachable Moments’ we provide examples of how PETEs utilized ‘teachable moments’ in implicit and explicit ways to educate PSTs about sociocultural issues. The third theme, ‘Resistance and Constraints’ captures the individual challenges PETE faculty faced within their courses if, and when, they teach for equity and social justice. The findings suggest that social justice struggles to find an explicit presence within many PETE programs and that educating PSTs about sociocultural issues and social justice is lacking in many PETE programs.