18 SES 10 A, 'Physical' Education: Dilemmas and Considerations
In recent years an increasing public anxiety associated with physical contact between children and adults in sport- and school settings has emerged. Discussions about sexual harassment, abuse and physical contact have blossomed and led to a series of policy documents and “Child Protection Tool Kits” in which sanctions for ‘good and bad’ interactions are defined.
The paper takes its starting point in the ‘politics of touch’ and the child protection policies that are now prominent in society. Through a Foucauldian lens, the paper investigates how general discourses and wider worries around sexual abuse and child protection in society influence teachers’ professional work in PE and the new types of vulnerability that these discourses may generate. It is a matter of problematising[SGF1] the tensions between the protection of children and the problems of sexual abuse on the one hand, and the consequences of enforcing strict codes of conduct on teachers’ pedagogical interactions in the practice of PE on the other. If PE practice becomes a ‘no touch zone’, how will this impact teachers' pedagogical work and students’ learning?
A body of academic writing highlights sexual abuse in sports settings by focusing on athletes’ experiences of sexual harassment, highlighting the risk factors and emphasising [SGF2] the importance of prevention (Brackenridge, 1997; Fasting, 2005). However, through a more critical approach, a growing body of research explores how sports coaching/teaching has responded to wider concerns in relation to touch, especially as coaches and teachers are now fearful of and confused about being around the children and young people they train and teach (Piper, Garratt & Taylor, 2013). Despite this, there is still a lack of research regarding the relation between teachers’ and pupils’ in PE (Taylor & Garratt 2010).
The theoretical framework draws on Michel Foucault’s work (1980/1991, 1982, 1994), and in particular his work on biopower, discourses and discursive practices as ways of analysing how discourses of child protection constitute new or different teaching situations for PE teachers. Discourses can be said to construct possibilities and restraints for action, and in this sense Foucault’s concept of biopower [SGF3] is fruitful for understanding governance and control over the human body. Using a Foucauldian inspired approach also makes it possible to reflect on and critically examine the consequences of dominating discourses that produce ‘realities’ and lead to specific ways of thinking and acting. It is a matter of looking critically at those things that are taken for granted and appear to be beyond question. Hence, the proper focus of interest and analysis is “identifying the ways in which human beings are individuated and addressed within the various practices that would govern them” (Rose, 1999:43).
[SGF1]Be consistent in your use of the GB ’s’ – see my next comment.
[SGF2]Here the GB ’s’ is used.
[SGF3]It is written as one word at the beginning of the paragraph.
Brackenridge, C. (1997) ‘He owned me basically…’. Woman’s Experience of Sexual Abuse in Sport. International Review for the Sociology of Sport 32, 2: 115-130. Fasting, K. (2005) Research on Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport. Idrottsforum.org. [Nordic Sport Science Forum] (www.idrottsforum.org 2005-04-05). Foucault, M. (1980/1991) Questions of Method. In, G. Burchell, C. Gordon & P. Miller, (Eds.) The Foucault Effect. Studies in Governmentality, p. 109 – 133. New York: Pantheon. Foucault, M. (1982) The subject and power, Critical Inquiry, 8(4), 777- 795. Foucault, M. (1990) The use of pleasure: the history of sexuality (Vol. 2). Random House Digital Inc.. Piper, H., Garratt, D. & Taylor, B. (2013a) Hands off! The practice, policy, and politics of touch in sport and educational settings. Sport, Education and Society, 18,5: 575-582. Taylor, B. And Garratt, D. (2010) The professionalisation of sport coaching: relations of power, resistance and compliance. Sport, Education and Society, 15,1: 121-139. Rose, N. (1999) Powers of freedom: reframing political thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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