Tag Archives: equity

Teaching for and about social justice in sport sociology and physical education (report from BSA Sport Study Group workshop)

On 23rd February 2018 I led a workshop at the BSA Sport Study Group’s teaching sport sociology day at the University of Northampton. My workshop was on teaching for and about social justice in sport sociology. Here’s an overview of some of the things we discussed…

My motivation in presenting this workshop was to continue some of the work my social justice research group has been doing in physical education and sport pedagogy circles, but broadening it out to other areas of sport education, like sport sociology. In this field, it is more common to have a sociocultural perspective than it is in teacher education, purely because that is the main subject content. However, a sociocultural perspective or subject area doesn’t necessarily mean a socially just or critical perspective. So, questions that we have posed in the social justice project with teacher educators, concerning how they came to know about sociocultural issues and how/if they have developed their knowledge, are still relevant in this other field.

I went into the workshop kind of with an assumption: that equity, diversity and justice are generally good things that we should work to further in our higher education environments, for the success of our students and for the people they may work with in the future as teachers, coaches, health practitioners, sport developers, managers.

I asked the group, firstly, how they would define social justice. Here are two (poor!) images of their responses:

IMG_20180228_170315412

There are a range of responses here:

Equality, fairness, inclusion, redistribution, asking questions, challenging inequalities, addressing failures, the process toward achieving change

One is slightly cynical if I may say so:

‘[social justice is] a phrase I hear bandied about’

I would say that is true! It might be a phrase that we hear lots of without fully knowing what it is supposed to refer to. Yet, it does indeed refer to a number of things, depending on the perspective of the writer, and this nebulous meaning has been discussed in the literature and in my research group’s forthcoming paper Hill et al. ‘Conceptualising social justice and sociocultural issues’.

I then asked the group to discuss a couple of questions to understand their previous experiences of learning about social justice, equity or diversity. In my research with physical education teacher educators (forthcoming), three ways of developing knowledge came up: formal education (e.g. learning about equality issues on your degree programme), personal experience (e.g. having experience of being marginalised), and professional experience (e.g. being in a job supporting marginalised students). At this workshop, I asked participants to use Padlet to share their discussion points. Padlet is an online pinboard that allows users to post text or links and then make comments on them. The Padlet is here to view. Some answers to the question concerning how they learnt to teach about social justice issues were:

‘it is rarely discussed in teaching and learning qualifications’

‘…through osmosis…’

‘no formal learning experiences’

‘through trial and error’

These are useful answers to reflect on, because amongst a group of sociologically-trained researchers, education for teaching about social issues and justice seems rare (I think this mirrors concerns across academia that the training for an academic job does not train us for the realities of teaching, project management, service work and so on).

Then participants shared what they need in order to learn more or to be able to include more social justice in their teaching. Again they responded using Padlet and there was a distinct request for case studies, resources or examples of how others have done it. This aligns with the observation above that formal learning opportunities rarely include how to teach about/for social justice. Although most sport sociologists will be aware of and use theoretical frames around equity, justice, social issues and so on in their research, ways to teach these concepts are not learnt, and so we might find ourselves trying something and using reflection to make improvements. Life experiences – whether our own or our students – are an important starting point for bringing social issues to life.

This idea was raised throughout the day by other presenters and attendees. Mark Doidge noted that one reason for running the workshop was to provide a space for sociologists – who may be isolated in sport science departments – to share teaching concerns. Many of us have diverse student groups who will enter diverse sport settings, so there is high relevance for sociological thinking about the situations we face; Ian Jones pointed out that critical thinking about sport’s benefits, and the impact of sporting events on athletes and citizens displaced by stadium building projects, should be vital for sports students. However, sociologists may be contradicting the messages that students get on other parts of their degree and so sociology may be easily invalidated; we should think then about how race, gender, class and other social issues can be embedded across different aspects of the course, not single lectures (reflection made during Kevin Hylton’s presentation).

***

My research on this area is ongoing and this workshop has been helpful for me in solidifying some ideas about where to go next. Anyone interested in participating in future stages of self-study and action research can email me for details: joanne.hill@beds.ac.uk.

The Padlet remains open access for any further reflections, links or examples to be added.

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Blogging my research: first interviews on PE teacher education and social justice

We are 10 interviews in on the UK element of the project on social justice and socio-cultural issues in PETE. My first thoughts on some commonalities in what has been discussed.

I usually start the interviews by asking, what actually is social justice, how do you define it? For some participants this is tricky to answer. It’s a term we all had heard, but don’t necessarily use. I wonder if social justice is a recent concept, as one that attempts to encompass more than equality and diversity, to consider fairness, activism, progressive policies, doing more to reach and make things better for all types of marginalised communities and individuals. As my last post on this project noted, there is something about caring and dealing with contemporary events such as the Orlando massacre. To bear in mind for analysis, is how the participants defined social justice.

Two key points raised about the impact of teaching social justice or teaching in a socially just way were the issue of occupational socialisation for teachers (once they are in schools) and activism. As PETE, how do we help pre-service teachers to prepare for maintaining their values in the job? And can teaching social justice be considered a form of activism for educators who do not or cannot engage in social activism “out there” – going to marches, donating money, being politically engaged (although of course the meaning of activism and what counts as proper activism or just back seat activism is unclear). For instance, do we have a duty to educate about and for a socially just world?

A big thank you to the participants so far and those scheduled in for July!

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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