Teacher educators' narratives of attempting to create inclusive PETE

Year: 2012

Author: Dowling, Fiona

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


'Feel good' stories like 'Sport for All' have tended to gain a foothold in the public conscience, as well as in the minds of many actors in Physical Education (PE), even though research has consistently shown that many inequalities persist in the fields of PE and sport due to differences created by social class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability and religion (Flintoff and Fitzgerald 2012). Images of carefree, healthy, young people engaged in morally worthy sports activities are all too often constructed in a social vacuum disconnected from the local and global structures which actually story their lives. This paper will reflect upon how such images can endure in the PE profession and beyond by critically reflecting upon the experiences of a sample of teacher educators who have attempted to disrupt the dominant picture, to problematise the emphasis on sport-as-technique (Kirk 2010) in PE teacher education (PETE), and to strive to create what they term as 'more inclusive' learning environments by bringing the social body of learners to the foreground. Teacher educators' role in the pedagogical relay has been sorely overlooked (Dowling 2006; MacPhaill 2011), so in many ways the paper is well overdue.

Data have been generated in the preliminary study via methods inspired by 'collective biography' (Davies and Cannon 2006).  The 3 research participants, who represent 'interesting cases' as part of a 'purposeful sample' (Patton 2002), were asked to reflect upon and narrate stories about the following research question:  'describe your experiences as a PE teacher educator in attempting to create equitable and more inclusive learning environments in PETE'.  They wrote autobiographical tales, shared oral stories about their teaching in PETE with each other, and generated further texts from these co-narrated tales of self and their enmeshment in the world. The generated texts have been analysed using post-structuralist narrative analysis (Czarniawska 2004; Davies and Cannon 2006).

The teacher educators' narratives revealed not only personal insights into subjective careers but they also illuminated the matrices of power in which these careers, including experimenting with the creation of more inclusive teaching strategies, were inextricably linked. The individual teacher educator's creativity was bound to local and global issues of what counts as prestige knowledge in the field of PE, who counts in the broader field of Sports Science, and indeed, the marketplace of higher education.

Chairperson: Professor Richard Tinning, University of Queensland;  Discussant: Professor Dawn Penney, University  Waikato