Book review: Equity and Inclusion in Physical Education and Youth Sport (eds. Stidder and Hayes)

Recently I wrote a review for Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly of Stidder and Hayes’ second edition of their text Equity and Inclusion in Physical Education and Youth Sport. You can read that review here if you have a subscription to the journal. Otherwise, here’s my tuppence-worth more briefly.

As the name suggests, Equity and Inclusion presents aspects of inclusion/exclusion that affect young people’s learning, engagement, participation and enjoyment within PE and sport. It takes lines of identity and difference in turn with one chapter each on gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, special educational needs, and also looks at health, sport for peace, policy, and competitive sport.

My favourite thing about this book is the opening of each chapter with a biographical piece from the author(s) that tells us something of their motivations for writing about the topic of the chapter, including their own experiences as a participant in PE in their own school days. Although I would not argue that any writer anywhere writes from a detached and unemotional position, the biographies of the authors in this book help to show readers how experience of issues of, say gender inequality, affect them (us, everyone?). It seems important in this book to personalise the stories that are created. Sometimes that means reflecting on unhappy stories and at times the book might be better called Inequity and Exclusion. However the editors in their introduction note that their aim is to share elements of good practice with teachers of PE to show how all children might be included. In order to do that, I think the book needs to be read as a whole, not dipped into for a relevant chapter, to avoid treating them as single issues. There are intersections between any of the concerns in the book.

Equity and Inclusion reminds us that we need to be aware of both external pressures such as policy or public discourse within which PE must legitimate itself, while knowing that the focus of PE and youth sport is the young people. It has been a key text on undergraduate modules I’ve taught on that address equality and/or critical pedagogy, and serves well as an introduction to equity issues for students.

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