Deficit discourses of Indigenous high school students in physical education and school sport and the benefit of a strengths-based alternative.

John WILLIAMS, Lawrence Bamblett

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Abstract

This paper reports the positive aspects of participation in physical education (PE) and school sport by Indigenous students as part of the wider findings of a doctoral study carried out at three Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government secondary schools. Data was collected from Indigenous students using group interviews and figurational sociology was used to interpret the findings. Central to figurational sociology are long-term processes and power relationships and it is contended that deficit understandings are inextricably linked to these kinds of relationships between individuals and groups. In particular, the research drew upon the figurational concepts of established and outsider theory (Elias & Scotson, 1994). This study found that Indigenous students were predominantly portrayed according to deficit understandings in both PE and in school sport. This research is important because it connects with a key idea of the Australian Curriculum Health and Physical Education (AC HPE) (ACARA, 2015). This key idea being a ‘strengths-based approach’. The paper concludes by identifying opportunities for Indigenous perspectives to be included in the AC HPE according to a strengths based perspective and also highlights related topics for future research. This paper is particularly relevant to primary and high school educators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-45
Number of pages11
JournalLearning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social contexts
Volume21
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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school sports
physical education
deficit
discourse
school
health promotion
sociology
student
curriculum
secondary school
Group
educator
participation
interview

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N2 - This paper reports the positive aspects of participation in physical education (PE) and school sport by Indigenous students as part of the wider findings of a doctoral study carried out at three Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government secondary schools. Data was collected from Indigenous students using group interviews and figurational sociology was used to interpret the findings. Central to figurational sociology are long-term processes and power relationships and it is contended that deficit understandings are inextricably linked to these kinds of relationships between individuals and groups. In particular, the research drew upon the figurational concepts of established and outsider theory (Elias & Scotson, 1994). This study found that Indigenous students were predominantly portrayed according to deficit understandings in both PE and in school sport. This research is important because it connects with a key idea of the Australian Curriculum Health and Physical Education (AC HPE) (ACARA, 2015). This key idea being a ‘strengths-based approach’. The paper concludes by identifying opportunities for Indigenous perspectives to be included in the AC HPE according to a strengths based perspective and also highlights related topics for future research. This paper is particularly relevant to primary and high school educators.

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