Researchers in Canada say that dodgeball is nothing more than legalized bullying.
When you’re setting up the environment for students to learn, and you introduce the idea that it’s okay to slam the ball at whomever you like, even if it’s with a soft ball, the intention is there,’ Joy Butler, a professor who studies pedagogy and curriculum development said to the Washington Post.
‘When students think it’s okay because they’re being told it’s okay to do that, what do they learn? People say dodgeball is being used as an outlet for aggression or catharsis. I suspect that this is where they’re learning that.
‘Phys-ed should be an arena where teachers are helping students control their aggression and move on instead of expressing themselves through anger.’
Researchers interviewed middle-school students about their physical education classes and say the overwhelming feeling was that students hated dodgeball.
The team’s findings are to be presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences this week in Vancouver and will argue that the playground favorite actually ‘reinforces the five faces of oppression’ identified as exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence by political theorist Iris Marion Young.
‘I think of the little girl who is running to the back to avoid being targeted,’ Professor Butler said. ‘What is she learning in that class? Avoidance?’
Researchers also noted that they had observed the more athletic, authoritative students had created their own rules and purposely stacked the teams. This, naturally made it more difficult for the less athletic or popular to compete.
‘The message is that it’s okay to hurt or dehumanize the ‘other,’ Butler said. ‘The competition is about annihilating one’s opponent, and the true definition of competition is between two evenly matched teams. Well, kids stack their teams, and they really enjoy beating the other team. What’s the enjoyment of that?’
“Despite the fact that many physical educators understand their vital role in helping students develop robust, equal, productive relationships and critical awareness, their practices on the ground do not always reflect this agenda,” they write. “We suggest that this tension becomes sharply visible in the common practice of allowing students to play dodgeball.
They ultimately recommended that Physical Education curriculum’s focus more on health, wellness and fitness rather than just sports.
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