Tiffany’s Movement Journal_ Week 9 (Nov 18)

This week’s reading summary was particularly interesting to me – in modern society, so many things are taken for granted and normalized, that certain topics such as diversity can so easily be overlooked in the PE classroom.  Notions such as “Bob can’t participate in class today because the activities involve running and he is in a wheelchair” or “Liam is a  strong and healthy 17-year-old male Caucasian student, he should be on the football team” are so ingrained into our culture that we rarely stop and critically assess them.

I still remember experiences from school, when boys were expected to play soccer outside and girls were expected to participate in quiet activities, when a Sikh boy couldn’t participate in roller blading because the helmets didn’t fit over his turban, when a boy with a physical handicap never participated in our PE classes.  I recall recognizing the injustice of the situations, but never stopping to think about or address the issues.

Throughout the week, diversity seemed to be a common discussion in our classes.  Racism, gender biases, stereotyping – these are just a few of the epidemics that have taken over society. These epidemics are not spreading through loud or visible means however.  They are silent killers, deeming us mute and seemingly ignorant of the discrimination and segregation happening all around us.

In all of our class discussions, the solution spiraled down to something fairly simple  – awareness.  Simply by speaking out loud about an issue, or educating people so they could learn more about something that was previously ambiguous, can bring topics out of the darkness and demystify and de-normalize them.  Yesterday, Sheena did a wonderful job of leading our group discussion and helping us to identify what we should be aware of (in regards to diversity) as educators.  I hope that as a cohort, we can continue to question and build on each other’s thoughts and ideas, and push each other forward on this amazing learning journey!

3 thoughts on “Tiffany’s Movement Journal_ Week 9 (Nov 18)”

  1. Great post Tiffany, you raise some interesting topics from this week’s P.E. class. I’d also like to address the stigmas of gender-roles during physical activity, and an example that I witnessed in my practicum. I too, feel that males are expected to dominate sports like soccer, and it came up during one of my P.E. classes. After dividing the class into teams, a female student spoke out, “No fair, our team only has two boys!” where the other team had about eight boys. I chose not to address her comment, and the teacher continued on with the lesson. I think the take-home message here is that students have continued to normalize these gender-roles, and our job is to stop and reverse this thinking process. We need to start by providing students with games that are all-inclusive, and in the soccer example we could have provided them with four goal posts and more groups, or changed the objective of the game all-together. In order to reverse the stigma of gender-roles in activities we need our classes to engage every student, and allow them to see that everyone is a contributing team member. Once they are able to see this, the boundary between genders will be blurred, all students will feel more included, and there will be a positive-feedback cycle of inclusivity that reinforces future games you play.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  2. Agreed – great post Tiffany! You’re right, we definitely had a bit of an ongoing theme this week. And I think our discussions in Maryam’s class really helped ease the tension associated with addressing such a sensitive topic. As she said, she teaches the subject yet still gets it wrong sometimes. Awareness and talking about it is key – if you don’t know the correct term, then ask! It’s better than making an incorrect assumption and offending someone. And I think this is important to remember throughout all of teaching, not just with addressing diversity. If you are aware and can communicate effectively, that’s half the battle. I agree, that it’s great we’re able to question each other and have these conversations as a cohort. We all bring different experiences to the table so bringing these together are key to growing as a group. One thing that stood out about the privilege walk and how the concept could be understood by our students, is that it doesn’t matter where we stood, but where we believe that we stand… hopefully, all around the middle.

    This relates to PE as it is one of those subjects where it can more easily come across that some students are more proficient than others. Students are more aware of their bodies, and especially when there is some element of competition, students are going to compare each other more. How do we create an even playing field, especially for those who may initially be culturally or physically excluded? Chris’ comment got me thinking… if one team has two boys and the other has eight, what happens if that second team ends up scoring more goals? As students get older there can be a slight difference in athletic ability between some boys and girls (I saw this myself growing up playing soccer!), so how do we balance keeping it fair without facilitating the idea of gender-roles?

  3. Great post Tiffany. I really liked your thoughts about how these epidemics are silent killers. They really are. And the scary part of these silent killers is that it is not just the students who are silent but some teachers as well; even parents! If teachers don’t stand up to these epidemics and model how to create healthy, open discussions, then we cannot expect our students to change. One thing I really appreciated during this week, was that all of our teachers lead the discussion, but did not take over the conversation. They kept an open mind, and allowed us to discuss our own feelings and perceptions. I think that PE class, because it is not an “academic” class, many teachers assume that they are just playing games with no thoughts to different learning styles or the challenges of diversity. This can be very detrimental when throughout the school day, they are taught to be “aware of our differences” when it comes to math or science, but can yell out boys vs. girls in PE class with no thought to the subject.

    Gemma I really liked your comment about where boys might actually have a better athletic proficiency, how can we address this while keeping gender balances. It was such a good point to make, and one that I am wondering about myself. I was lifeguard a water polo practice this morning, there were boys playing girls. In order to keep the scores fairly even, the coach allowed for an extra female player. The final score was 5:4 males, however, their playing was on par. How can we balance this idea of gender equality and fair play? I think I completely re-iterated your point with my own example, but I just think it is such a good point.

    Lastly Tiffany, I would like to say I loved your tag, “hatersgonnahate”.

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