Pre-Service Teachers’ Understandings Of Difference And Inclusion In Health And Physical Education

Year: 2015

Author: Alfrey, Laura, Oçonnor, Justen, Jeanes, Ruth, Penney, Dawn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Health and Physical Education (HPE) is a dangerous mix of essential and exclusive. It can make significant and distinctive contributions to physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. It also, however, excludes many people due to an over-reliance on individualistic, performative and body-centred pedagogies. Despite attempts by initial teacher educators to encourage pre-service teachers to develop critical perspectives, Initial Teacher Education (ITE) appears to be having little influence over philosophies and pedagogies that are historically reproduced and culturally entrenched. It is necessary to capture pre-service teachers’ understandings of difference and inclusion at the outset of their professional lives if we are to understand how ITE might influence them. This research draws upon findings from semi-structured interviews (n=16) and an online survey (n=102) to explore understandings of difference and inclusion amongst first year pre-service teachers enrolled in the Secondary HPE course at an Australian University. The findings suggest that significant numbers of pre-service teachers continue to perpetuate the reproduction of citizens that are differentiated on the basis of gender, class, race, physical ability, body shape and their intersections. Whilst many pre-service teachers in this pilot study appeared to have sound understandings of inclusion and diversity, the findings suggest that ITE and subsequent professional development have many myths to destroy.