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Abstract Details

Abstract Title

Helper, Helped, or Helpless: Moving beyond deficient positioning of students with physical disabilities in elementary physical education

Abstract Theme

Sport pedagogy

Type Presentation

Oral presentation

Abstract Authors

Presenter Kirsten Petrie - The University of Waikato (Te Hononga School of Curriculum and Pedagogy) - NZ
Joel Devcich - Whitby Discovery School (Wellington) - NZ

Presentation Details

Room: Urano        Date: 3 September        Time: 10:00:00        Presenter: Kirsten Petrie

Abstract Resume

Background: Experiences in physical education can impact on students' desire and ability to engage in sport and physical activity beyond the school gates. In Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ)
many students with special learning needs, included physical disabilities, are mainstreamed in elementary school classrooms, and generalist teachers predominantly deliver physical education. In
previous work we have examined how pedagogical decision-making in the elementary school physical education has a central role in physically disabled students’ being position as the teacher's ‘helper’,
the ‘helped’ as they are been support one-on-one by a teacher aid or another student, or the ‘helpless’ as they sit out of the lesson or stay back in the classroom doing other work. As is evidenced in
broader literature such positioning further isolates students from their peers, teaches students that they can only have limited if any involvement in movement-related activities, and as a result
leads to them become switched off, despondent, and avoiding future opportunities to participate in physical activity or sport both in and out of school settings. In this paper we examine physical
education practice using practice theory (Kemmis et al, 2012) to discuss the ‘sayings’, ‘doings’ and ‘relatings’ inherent in teaching and learning practices in physical education, and examine the
practice architectures that constrain learning opportunities for students with physical disabilities, and result in individuals with physical disabilities being positioned as helper, helped, or
helpless.

Methods: This research is drawn from a critical participatory action research (CPAR) project are explored school, teacher and student practices, and the public/professional/personal
discourses that shape pedagogical decision-making in physical education. Data were collected in the form of interviews and/or informal conversations with participants; field notes (reflective thoughts
and observations), learning programme materials, and a school/community/media environmental audit. In this paper the theory of practice architectures is used as a framework to analysis the data.

Results: Drawing from the experiences of a classroom generalist teacher we demonstrate how the site-based nature and ecological arrangement of practices reinforces the positioning of
students as helper, helped, or helpless. This is accentuated by cultural-discursive, material-economic, and social political arrangements, for example traditional programme offerings, school PE
resourcing, government priorities (initiatives and agendas), and public health discourse that narrowing what it means to be active.

Conclusions: If we want to change practices to ensure learning in PE is genuinely inclusive for students with disabilities in mainstreamed elementary school settings then you also
have to simultaneously address the practice architectures that constrain opportunities to transform practice. Teachers need to be supported to unpack the architectures that constrain their current
practice so they too can avoid positioning learners as the helper, helped, or helpless.

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