“I always live in a quebrada [favela] and today I am here. So, you can be also here one day”: exploring pre-service teachers’ perceptions of care/love for youth from socially vulnerable backgrounds

Year: 2019

Author: Luguetti, Carla, McDonald, Brent

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Introduction: Several studies demonstrate the benefits of socially critical work in physical education and sport (Devis-devis2006;Fitzpatrick 2018). An ‘ethic of care’ has been proposed as a moral basis for socio-critical work (Rovegno and Kirk 1995). In recent years, socially critical scholars have argued that care/love should not be colorblind or power blind and that marginalized populations necessarily understand caring within their sociocultural context; creating spaces for youth and teachers to challenge inequities (Freire, 2005; Ladson-Billings 2009).While advocacy critical ethic of care in education and physical education, there is little research that aims to explore how teacher’s conceptions of care/love change across time.Building on this gap, we seek to extend this conversation using a critical lens of ethic of care. We draw specifically on Paulo Freire’s concept of Love(Freire 1987, 2005, 2014).Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore pre-service teachers’ perception of care/love for youth from socially vulnerable backgrounds in experiencing an activist sport approach across time. Participants and settings: Participatory action research framed this 4-semester research project (20 months). Participants included the lead researcher, four pre-service teachers (PSTs) and 110 youth. Data collected included: (a) lead researcher’s field notes; (b) collaborative PSTs group meetings; (c) PSTs generated artifacts; and (d) PSTs focus groups and interviews. Data analysis involved induction and constant comparison. Results: The PSTs understood that care/love it was represented by: a) creating democratic spaces for students to care from each other and their community; b) trusting and understanding the students, and dream possible futures with them; c) being the best teacher in order to accomplish students’ learning; d) making sure all students are included. The embodied PSTs’ experiences of oppression and the reflexive experience lived in the activist sport approach created a space for the PSTs to see themselves in the youth, reconnected with their own identity and developing empathy, care and love for the youth. Conclusion: We suggest that teachers need to develop attitudes, knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become competent in catering to linguistically, culturally, and ethnically diverse students. It requires them to examine their own values and assumptions about working with youth who are different from them, recognizing their own privileges (Enright et al., 2017;McCuaig, 2012;Oliver et al., 2015). It is a process that requires reflexivity in order to develop awareness of micro oppression that allowed micro transformations.