Vol. 13 No. 2 (2023): PHEnex Journal
Equity – Diversity – Inclusion (EDI) in physical education/ physical activity
Dr. Lauren Sulz
College of Social Sciences and Humanities
Faculty of Education
University of Alberta
Dr. Daniel B. Robinson, PhD
Professor, Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Past Chair, PHE Canada Research Council
St. Francis Xavier University
As guest editors of this special issue focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), we have been enabled to work alongside many others to advance PHE Canada Research Council’s visionary efforts towards a more socially just physical and health education field. Acknowledging that there remains plenty of work to be done, this special issue has been one Research Council initiative related to our strategic initiatives to: (1) advance the personal, physical, cultural, and social development and wellbeing of children and youth in Canada; and (2) elevate commitment to diverse, equitable, and inclusive physical and health education programs, practices, and leadership.
We are grateful to our peers on the Research Council Executive Team who, through their ongoing support of this initiative, have allowed our initial vision to come to fruition. Moreover, the success of this first special issue within Revue phénEPS-PHEnex Journal may also be attributed to the support, vision, and leadership offered by the journal’s longstanding editors—Sandra Gibbons and Pierre Boudreau. Through Sandy and Pierre’s tireless efforts on the editorial team, Revue phénEPS-PHEnex Journal has grown in its number of authors and readers. So, many thanks are offered to those two.
This special issue includes five English articles,( and 4 in French described in the French part of the introduction) all attending to different EDI-related issues. Articles and authors include the following: “Storying the Physical Education Teacher Education Experience” from Hayley Morrison, Douglas Gleddie, and Lee Schaefer; “Teacher Candidates’ Critical Reflections on Inclusive Physical Education: Deconstructing and Rebuilding New Paradigms” from Wendy Barber, William Walters, and Jared Walters; “Supporting Inclusive Development of Physical Literacy in Leisure Settings: Building on the Affective Dimension” from Stéphanie Girard, Annie Paquet, Suzie McKinnon, and Myriam Rousseau; “‘Are we there yet?’ An Examination of Teacher Diversity within Canada’s Physical and Health Education Community” from Lauren Sulz, Melanie Davis, and Dipal Damani; and “Land Affirmation: Moving Naturally Toward Reconciliation” from Stephen Smith and Damien Norris.
In their research, Morrison et al. utilized narrative inquiry as both a phenomenon and a research method as they engaged with pre-service physical education teachers who had diverse experiences and stories related to physical education. Morrison et al. and their participants contemplated these stories, with purposeful attention placed upon considering them alongside the stories of others—an exercise that allows one to recognize how some stories might resonate with and/or contradict others. Participants who reflected on these stories, largely through critical autobiographical work, were enabled to contemplate how they might implement socially just teaching strategies within physical education. This process, and the strategies identified by participants themselves, offers possibilities for others who share an interest in designing and offering socially just physical education experiences for all.
In their research, Barber et al. investigated the impact of an “intentionally designed” physical education teacher education course that aimed to challenge pre-service teachers to critically reflect upon their own inclusion-related experiences so that they might, in turn, find ways to disrupt what might be viewed as problematic. Employing a general qualitative research design, data were gathered through multiple means before they engaged in an inductive thematic analysis exercise. Barber et al. found that pre-service physical education teachers came into their pre-service teacher education programs with limited experience working with students with disabilities. Yet, Barber et al. found an intentionally designed physical education teacher education course enabled students to develop mature perceptions of inclusion as well as broadened approaches related to their own pedagogy. These findings are especially relevant to those who teach or learn within physical education teacher education programs.
In their research, Girard et al. also focused upon inclusion—though their focus was placed upon the “inclusive development of physical literacy” within a summer day camp. With attention placed upon physical literacy’s affective domain (motivation, specifically), Girard et al. surveyed camp counsellors and companions so that they might evaluate the effectiveness of “Maximize Participation of all Campers”—a tool meant to offer motivational strategies for all campers, including those with disabilities. Their research results suggested that the tool was useful, in that users were likely to use some of the idealized motivational strategies. These findings suggest the tool is an appropriate one for this context, and others like it, to promote the affective dimension of physical literacy within groups that have participants with and without disabilities.
In their research, Sulz et al. examined teacher diversity within the PHE Canada community. Their examination explored the gender identity, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, and racialized identity of teachers (registered) within the PHE Canada community. Moreover, they compared this demographic information with the Canadian population and with the Canadian teacher population. Their results showed that the proportion of teachers within the PHE Canada community from historically underrepresented groups were, generally, disproportionately low in comparison to the Canadian population and the Canadian teacher population on most diversity features. The few similarities they found were related to the following: (1) sexual orientation and the Canadian population; and (2) Métis and racialized minority and the Canadian teacher population. Given these results, Sulz et al. provide calls to action so that the PHE Canada community (as well as the broader physical and health education community) may become more diverse, particularly with respect to (dis)ability and racialized identities.
Lastly, Smith and Norris offer a conceptual essay that provides physical and health education teachers with possibilities for making Indigenous land acknowledgements physical affirmations. To do so, they provide discursive, active, and interactive possibilities. These “moving naturally” possibilities include practices related to breathing, earthing, and naturing. By taking Indigenous land acknowledgements outdoors, and by grounding them in land-based pedagogy, Smith and Norris offer something beyond what is sometimes a prefatory and/or performative task. This sort of kinesthetic and embodied land acknowledgement has the potential to introduce and connect physical and health education students more fully to the (Indigenous) land in which they live, work, and play.
These studies contribute to the field of physical and health education by presenting fresh insights and possibilities for creating socially just and inclusive physical and health education programs, practices, and leadership. The findings emphasize the need for continued research in the area in order to ensure that physical and health education is accessible and inclusive for all students. By illuminating these critical issues and offering practical solutions, we aim to inspire the physical and health education community to prioritize EDI in their own work. We hope that this special issue will enthuse new thinking and action on EDI, and serve as a catalyst for continued dialogue within physical and health education.