Social Justice Education and Remote PE: Considerations

The current pandemic and the resultant lockdowns have meant that our health and physical education have had to be taken online! We feel this we feel has developed a real sense of community as teachers around the world have been sharing ideas to keep our students moving and learning!! Also reminding us of the importance of equitable practice; as most students are at home, what space/equipment is available or accessible to them is a necessary consideration. As a collective, we have been thinking about what we can do to support our diverse community to promote social justice and equity during this difficult time. So, we reached out to some of our community members for their advice when teaching health and physical education remotely.

“During lockdown, we’ve seen Physical Activity being described and used to replace Physical Education, we must consider the terminology we use when setting tasks. Is it Physical Activity or Education? This will be damaging in the long run, if we hope to develop physically literate students. Predominantly I’ve seen fitness workouts being set for home learning activities which are great for some not for all. To combat this, I aim to set a combination of health-related fitness activities, sport-specific skill development, a fun home challenge, and also wellbeing exercises. This should allow the vast majority of students to access and partake, if they’re not a fan of fitness, they can do a challenge or some wellbeing exercises.” Mr. A

“Covid-19 poses great risk to our economy and future job creation for our young people in schools. More than ever, we need to inspire this generation to think creatively, solution-focused and critically. Remote learning should include these components and be central to learning. More so than squats, press-ups and ideas of energy in/out consumption ratios. These draconian ideas need to become extinct to include our young people in engaging curricula relevant for 2021. Importantly, I encourage teachers to think about those from minority groups on the side-lines that often forgotten about: children in care, gypsy and traveller children and refugee children. Share and advocate your concerns regarding these children and young people and ensure they are not left behind in your remote learning options. Follow up, take the time to learn about them more and include their voices in learning options.” Dr. Lynch

“Although social justice education should facilitate an environment that caters for all students to experience the opportunity to critically understand the world around them. It is not surprising that some students will not experience this during the pandemic, as they do not have the correct equipment to engage with remote learning. This is worrying and puts these young people at a disadvantage which also has an impact on how they will be able to move and be physically active beyond the pandemic. Therefore, as educators, we need to consider offering a provision after the pandemic to allow them to catch-up/build their confidence back up.” Miss Omar

“Our lessons enable students from all backgrounds to take part in physical activity. During their physical lessons, we encourage physical activity through various means, allowing for flexibility. During theory lessons we aim to represent all through the use of videos, helping to showcase a variety of cultures – next week, we are showing Kabaddi!” Miss Hennessy

“If we want to share a workout, can we look for workouts related to a sport? For example, a judo workout. This will give them an opportunity to learn other sports, physical activities or games from other countries that may motivate them or lead to discovering something new that they enjoy. It is completely understandable to feel lost right now, but the most important thing is to know that being a teacher involves a social responsibility and it is our job to search, study and try different ways to give the best physical education to everyone.” Miss Gordon

A practical example

Below is an example of a project created by Miss Gordon that is both practical and considerate to our environment!

Remote learning in PE leaves us great opportunities to provide inclusive and differentiated education. Not all students have access to buy materials to practice sports/games at home, however, we should not let this limit our job as a PE teacher to send workouts links to our students, we have more options. For that reason, I have decided to investigate the use of recycled materials to build our sports equipment; inspired by my volunteer experience in Bangladesh, where the lack of material at school forced me to look for other ways to provide outstanding PE, we created materials to play Indica as an alternative to volleyball.

My project this year focused on the creation of a hockey stick which we will use during the lessons. With this approach, the students are encouraged to develop their creativity and imagination as there are many ways to design a hockey stick. This is an inclusive activity because the students use materials found at home and there is no default standard of perfection, just students using the resources available to them to create their own equipment and practice their skills. The level of difficulty can be decided by them since they will design their circuit or game with all kinds of obstacles (shoes, cans, plush, etc.) and the teacher can provide suggestions on variations of the activity to provide challenge. This is a simple example, but we have others like golf, which can be a better option to use in smaller spaces. The main idea behind this, is that even though education is not face-to-face, students still have practical activities that are individualised and suited to their environment. 

We do hope that you have enjoyed engaging with this blog. Please take care, stay safe, and let’s keep our community spirit going!

Written by Laura McBean – January 26, 2021 with collaboration from Mr. A, Dr. Lynch, Miss Omar, Miss Hennessy, and Miss Gordon.

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