Me, osteogenesis imperfecta, and my classmates in physical education lessons: a case study of embodied pedagogy in action

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Abstract

Pupils with disabilities have been found to experience a narrower physical education curriculum and participate less frequently than pupils without disabilities. A lack of knowledge, skills, relevant experiences and confidence amongst physical education (PE) teachers has been said to contribute to these differential educational experiences. This article adds to the paucity of research that analyses the PE experiences of pupils with disabilities while, at the same time, evaluating embodied pedagogy as a tool for better preparing PE teachers for their role as inclusive educators. Specifically, the article aims to: (1) explore the PE experiences of a university student named Violeta who lives with the condition of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI); (2) analyse the views of a group of prospective teachers who participated in a PE lesson (Experience 1) which included Violeta; and (3) examine the perceptions of a group of prospective teachers who participated in a simulated attempt at embodied pedagogy (Experience 2). Data were gathered using field notes, observations and interviews with Violeta and the prospective teachers who participated in Experience 1 and Experience 2. The findings suggest that in both Experience 1 and 2, the prospective teachers developed a greater aware of OI and a more positive attitude towards inclusive PE. That said, the nature of the student learning experience and their ability to empathetically imagine themselves in, and through, the bodies of others that were different from themselves varied significantly in Experience 1 and 2. Such a contrast, especially in relation to notions of alterity, related to the presence or absence of the other as a corporeal entity involved in the lessons. Neither Experience 1 or 2 was found to be ‘better’ than the other, they simply provided different contexts, resources and opportunities for learning to take place. We discuss some implications of these differences for those wishing to engage in embodied forms of pedagogy as a way of helping prospective teachers to have the knowledge, skills and experience to develop a more inclusive culture in school PE.

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Sparkes, A. C., Martos-Garcia, D., & Maher, A. J. (2019). Me, osteogenesis imperfecta, and my classmates in physical education lessons: a case study of embodied pedagogy in action. Sport, Education and Society, 24(4), 338–348. https://doi.org/10.1080/13573322.2017.1392939

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