18 SES 08, Developing Teachers Professional Identity: The contemporary physical education teacher
Historically, gender has featured as a recurrent theme common to many European (and international) conversations of educational reform. Specific to this research were global moral panics on the crisis of masculinity that fuelled educational debate about boys supposed underachievement in the 1990s (Arnot & Mac an Ghaill 2006). In the UK and elsewhere, the popular rhetoric at this time argued the feminisation of schooling (Skelton 2002) had culturally produced curriculum and pedagogies that supported the learning needs of girls (at the expense of boys) and politically contributed to a lack of male role-models in education (Drudy 2008). Perhaps unwittingly, this raised questions about the contributions female teachers could make to the education of boys (Keddie & Mills 2007), especially in the context of an all-boys’ school. The point of this paper is not to rehearse historical gender equity debates but rather to position questions about the contributions of female teachers to boys’ physical education (PE) within the contested gender landscape in which they play out.
PE and Sport have long been heralded as school sites where gendered power-relations are reproduced (Berg & Lahelma 2010). As Kirk (2010) explains, historically the English Public School system of the Victorian and Edwardian periods ‘codified and developed games as a medium for the construction of a particular form of masculinity suited to the needs of the times and of the social class groups the schools served’ (p. 52). Heavily influenced as a colonial outpost, school-based PE and sport in Australia has followed similar historical trajectories for the role it has played for the (re)construction and performance of particular gendered identities. Mapped against this socio-historical backdrop, the purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences of two female PE teachers in Australia as they commence employment in all-boys’ schools to interrogate the ways in which notions of effective pedagogical practice are constructed in these contexts. In particular, this contribution juxtaposes the experiences of ‘Rachel’ and ‘Jane’ with those of ‘Emily’, a female pre-service PE teacher who undertook her final 75-day placement in a boys’ grammar school in England (Stidder 2012). In the European context, it is usual practice for teachers to complete their teacher training, and gain employment, as a male teacher of boys’ PE or as a female teacher of girls’ PE. Learning to teach PE in opposite-sex secondary contexts has been a relatively underexplored phenomena (Stidder 2012), with very limited research available that explores the contributions of qualified teachers.
Recently, in the PE and sport pedagogy context, we have witnessed a re-turn to the teacher socialisation literature to explore the ways in which teachers navigate the organisational norms, cultures and ideologies that permeate a particular social context such as the PE classroom, and the ways in which initial teacher education (ITE) courses have prepared them for this (MacPhail & Hartley 2016; Richards & Lux Gaudreault 2017). As Wrench (2017) argues, these are identity making processes. Recently MacPhail and Hartley (2016) re-present the notion of ‘praxis shock’ in their discussion of beginning PE teachers to discuss the difficulties that confront teachers ‘at the classroom level, but also … in the school as an organization’ (p. 169). Here we draw on the tools of Foucault, and poststructuralism more broadly, to interrogate the early socialisation experiences of female teachers in all-boys’ PE contexts as they construct notions of effective pedagogical practice. Specifically, this research is informed by the following question:
Which pedagogical approaches do female PE teachers deem to be effective in teaching boys’ PE and how do discourse-power relations shape these understandings?
Armour, K & Griffiths, M 2012, 'Case study research', in K Armour & D Macdonald (eds), Research methods in Physical Education and Youth Sport, Routledge, London, UK, pp. 204-16. Arnot, M & Mac an Ghaill, M (eds) 2006, The RoutledgeFalmer reader in gender and education, Routledge, Milton Park, Abingdon. Berg, P & Lahelma, E 2010, 'Gendering processes in the field of physical education', Gender & Education, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 31-46. Drudy, S 2008, 'Gender balance/gender bias: The teaching profession and the impact of feminisation', Gender and Education, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 309-23. Fernandez-Balboa, J 1998, 'Transcending masculinities: Linking personhood and pedagogy', in C Hickey, L Fitzclarence & R Matthews (eds), Where the boys are: Masculinity, sport and education, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, pp. 121-39. Foucault, M 1983, 'The subject and power', in H Dreyfus & P Rabinow (eds), Michel Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA, pp. 208-26. Foucault, M 2000, 'Subjectivity and Truth', in P Rabinow (ed.), Michel Foucault Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth, Penguin, London. Keddie, A & Mills, M 2007, Teaching boys: Developing classroom practices that work, Allen & Unwin, Sydney. Kirk, D 2010, 'The 'masculinity vortex' of school physical education: Beyond the myth of hyper-masculinity', in M Kehler & M Atkinson (eds), Boys' bodies: Speaking the unspoken, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, New York, NY, pp. 51-72. Lawson, H 1983, 'Toward a model of teacher socialization in physical education: The subjective warrant, recruitment, and teacher education (part 1)', Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, vol. 2, pp. 3-16. MacPhail, A & Hartley, T 2016, 'Linking Teacher Socialization Research With a PETE Program: Insights From Beginning and Experienced Teachers', Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 169-80. Patton, M 1990, Qualitative evaluation and research methods, 2nd edn, Sage Publications, Inc, Newbury Park, California. Richards, KAR & Lux Gaudreault, K (eds) 2017, Teacher socialization in Physical Education: New Perspectives, Routledge, London, UK. Skelton, C 2002, 'The 'feminisation of schooling' or 're-masculinising' primary education?', International Studies in Sociology of Education, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 77-96. Stidder, G 2012, 'Training to teach physical education in a grammar school for boys: female narratives and mentor perspectives', Sport, Education and Society, pp. 1-17. Wrench, A 2017, 'Pre-service teacher identity formation and socialisation', in KAR Richards & K Gaudreault (eds), Teacher socialization in Physical Education: New Perspectives, Routledge, London, UK, pp. 47-62.
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