TitleWorking through whiteness , race and (anti) racism in physical education teacher education
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsFlintoff, A., Dowling F., & Fitzgerald H.
Journal Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy
Volume20
Issue5
Pagination12
KeywordsEducation
Abstract

The persistent gaps between a largely white profession and ethnically diverse school populations have brought renewed calls to support teachers' critical engagement with race. Programmes examining the effects of racism have had limited impact on practice, with student teachers responding with either denial, guilt or fear; they also contribute to a deficit view of racialised students in relation to an accepted white ‘norm’, and position white teachers ‘outside’ of race. Recent calls argue for a shift in focus towards an examination of the workings of the dominant culture through a critical engagement with whiteness, positioning white teachers within the processes of racialisation. Teacher educators' roles are central, and yet, while we routinely expect student teachers to reflect critically on issues of social justice, we have been less willing to engage in such work ourselves. This is particularly the case within physical education teacher education (PETE), an overwhelmingly white, embodied space, and where race and racism as professional issues are largely invisible. Purpose: This paper examines the operation of whiteness within PETE through a critical reflection on the three co-authors' careers and experiences working for social justice. The research questions were twofold: How are race, (anti) racism and whiteness constructed through everyday experiences of families, schooling and teacher education? How can collective biography be used to excavate discourses of race, racism and whiteness as the first step towards challenging them? In beginning the process of reflecting on what it means for us ‘to do own work’ in relation to (anti) racism, we examine some of the tensions and challenges for teacher educators in PE attempting to work to dismantle whiteness. Methodology: As co-authors, we engaged in collective biography work – a process in which we reflected upon, wrote about and shared our embodied experiences and memories about race, racism and whiteness as educators working for social justice. Using a critical whiteness lens, these narratives were examined for what they reveal about the collective practices and discourses about whiteness and (anti)racism within PETE. Results: The narratives reveal the ways in which whiteness operates within PETE through processes of naturalisation, ex-denomination and universalisation. We have been educated, and now work within, teacher education contexts where professional discourse about race at best focuses on understanding the racialised ‘other’, and at worse is invisible. By drawing on a ‘racialised other’, deficit discourse in our pedagogy, and by ignoring race in own research on inequalities in PETE, we have failed to disrupt universalised discourses of ‘white-as-norm’, or addressed our own privileged racialised positioning. Reflecting critically on our biographies and careers has been the first step in recognising how whiteness works in order that we can begin to work to disrupt it. Conclusion: The study highlights some of the challenges of addressing (anti)racism within PETE and argues that a focus on whiteness might offer a productive starting point. White teacher educators must critically examine their own role within these processes if they are to expect student teachers to engage seriously in doing the same.

URLhttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17408989.2014.962017