Teachers as frontline agents of integration : Finnish physical education students’ reflections on intercultural encounters
Anttila, E., Siljamäki, M., & Rowe, N. (2018). Teachers as frontline agents of integration : Finnish physical education students’ reflections on intercultural encounters. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 23 (6), 609-622. doi:10.1080/17408989.2018.1485141
Published inPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Background and purpose: This article focuses on how future Physical Education and Dance teachers may be better prepared to work in increasingly diverse education environments. It also discusses how tertiary institutions might address issues of social inclusion and cultural pluralism within their programmes, courses and assignments. The authors critically reflect on an experiential learning intervention in Jyväskylä, Finland, in which trainee PE teachers facilitated kinaesthetic language-learning workshops for asylum seekers. The applied use of physical education and dance in this context was aimed at providing a distinct opportunity to consider a PE teacher’s professional competence and role as an agent of integration. Methods: Adopting an interpretive approach, the authors sought to understand students’ experiences, rather than to determine the causes behind, and results emerging from, the experience. Through a qualitative, open, yet structured set of questions they gathered the trainee PE teachers’ reflections on their experiences related to the workshops. The data were analysed through a collaborative, interpretive process. The analysis was supported by pertinent theories on, e.g. transformative learning in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the meanings of this intercultural encounter for the trainee teachers. The authors have sought to understand how a learning intervention may function as a transformative experience, shifting professional dispositions towards social inclusion and cultural integration. Results: The interpretive process resulted in a thematic structure that contains the following four themes: (1) Preconceptions of others, (2) Questioning the relevance, (3) Positive affirmation and (4) Pedagogical practices in motion. Conclusion: This study has sought to identify the ways in which intercultural encounters may support PE teacher trainees’ dispositions towards working with asylum seekers, and migrants in general. The findings suggest that not all students feel that such encounters are relevant to the role of a PE teacher. The authors conclude that courses on interculturality need to be developed for encouraging trainee teachers towards such encounters and applied uses of physical education and dance. For many students, however, the experience appeared to contribute to a process of transformation, in which they were developing professional competences that are amenable to the idea of being an agent of integration. ...
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