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The A-Z of Social Justice Physical Education: Part 1

Shrehan Lynch, Sue Sutherland and Jennifer Walton-Fisette

joperd cover april 2020

Hate has been plaguing our society; crime is increasing, and daily we see another malicious religious/race/ethnic/age/gender/sexual orientation/language-related offense. Politically influenced narratives glide around the media, often neglecting systematic patterns of inequities that have been working against minority groups for centuries. Individuals from the most dominant groups in society are afforded basic human rights, whereas environmental, political and economic structures work against the realities of many minority groups (see Figure  1). Critically oriented educationalists (see Blakeney, 2005; Cochran-Smith, 2004; Fernandez-Balboa, 1993; hooks, 1994) have focused on addressing social inequities troubling Western society, in order to create a more socially aware and morally responsible society that accepts rather than hates others. With a focus on diversity, acceptance and inclusion, education (including physical education) has an integral role to play in combating social injustice and creating a more equitable future for all students; such a task can be achieved through social justice education (SJE).

According to Chapman and Hobel (2010), teaching for social justice means facilitating educational structures and experiences where students can embrace and name their ways of knowing in the world through critical understandings of themselves, their communities, and their place in wider society. When social justice is the main aim of a teacher’s pedagogy, it becomes encompassed within the larger umbrella of SJE. The literature on SJE ranges from philosophical/conceptual, practical, ethnographic/narrative, theoretical, and democratically grounded pieces ( Hytten & Bettez, 2011). The practical strand speaks to this article considering our work was focused on providing examples of SJE for practitioners.

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