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Religion and physical education: does it affect Muslim boys?
Örebro University, School of Health Sciences. (ReShape: Research in sport, health and physical education)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1592-8018
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Topic/aim: In this study, I investigate situations when religion gets a function for Muslim ethnic minority boys in physical education (PE). Previous research has almost exclusively concerned Muslim girls (Stride 2014, Walseth 2013, Benn et al. 2011). As a response, I propose to emphasize Muslim boys. Empirical data are included in an ongoing PhD-project, in which I investigate situations when religion, ethnicity and gender gets a function for students and teachers in PE.

Introduction: Although Scandinavian curricula emphasize equal conditions, research shows several barriers that preclude equality in PE, e.g. gender/sex and ethnicity (With-Nielsen & Pfister 2011, Skolverket 2005). Furthermore, several authors (Penney 2002, Flintoff et al. 2008) claim that issues in PE tend to be investigated through ‘single issue approaches’ and call for intersectional perspectives. Recently, the intersectionality between religion, ethnicity and gender has been acknowledged as an important research area (Stride 2014, Walseth 2013, Benn et al. 2011). However, this research has almost exclusively concerned Muslim girls. Exceptions have merely concerned Muslim boys incidentally (Benn 2002) or identified them as less vulnerable than Muslim girls (Carrol & Hollinshead 1993).In this study, I contribute to previous research by exploring situations when religion has a function for Muslim boys in PE.

Theoretical framework: This study draws upon the pragmatic philosophy of John Dewey. Dewey rejects the idea that meaning can be found in objects/events per se. Rather, he claims that meaning emerges in action, in processes he calls transactions (Dewey & Bentley 1949/1991). For example, water gets different meaning depending on how it is used (drinking water, bathwater, etc.). Since meaning is an outcome of transaction, it can be investigated by studying people’s actions. Accordingly, it is possible to explore situations when religion gets a function for, in this case, Muslim boys, by investigating when it becomes “visible” in transaction.   

Method: Four Muslim boys (age: 14-16) participated in qualitative interviews. Situations were analyzed when religion gets a function in PE, i.e. situations when religion become “visible” in transaction.   

Findings: All boys stressed that they sometimes take it easy at PE during Ramadan, because they don’t want to be hungry/thirsty afterwards. They also told that they sometimes “run as usual”, especially during funny activities, but then become hungry/thirsty and tired afterwards. None of the boys wanted to swim during Ramadan for fear of swallowing water (i.e. “drinking”). Two of the boys hesitated to dance with girls because of their religious beliefs. This exemplifies situations when religion gets a function for the boys, i.e. situations when religion becomes visible in transaction.        

Discussion/conclusion:  Benn et al. (2011) claims that attention to religion and PE “could help us to increase understanding for more inclusive practice” (p. 23). Though a small sample, this study indicates that religion may be of great significance for Muslim boys. Although it is important research, I will highlight the need for research concerning other minority groups than Muslim girls. A broaden sample can increase understanding for more inclusive practices, for all students (cf. Benn et al. 2011).

 

 

References:

Benn, T., Dagkas, S., & Jawad, H. (2011). Embodied faith: Islam, religious freedom and educational practices in physical education. Sport, Education and Society, 16(1), 17-34.

Benn, T. (2002). Muslim women in teacher training: issues of gender, ‘race’, and religion. I D. Penney (Ed.). Gender and Physical Education: Contemporary Issues and Future Directions (s. 57-79). London: Routledge.

Carrol, B., & Hollinshead, G. (1993). Ethnicity and conflict in physical education. Brittish Educational Research Journal, 19(1), 59-76.

Dewey, J. & Bentley, A. F. (1949/1991). Knowing and the known. In Boydston J. A. (Ed.). The Later Works, 1925-1953, Vol. 16: 1949-1952 (p. 1-294). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Flintoff, A., Fitzgerald, H., & Scraton, S. (2008). The challenges of intersectionality: researching differences in physical education. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 18(2), 73-85.

Penney, D. (2002). Equality, equity and inclusion in physical education. In Laker, A. (Ed.), The sociology of sport and physical education. London: Routledge

Skolverket. (2005). Nationella utvärderingen av grundskolan 2003: idrott och hälsa. Stockholm: Skolverket.

Stride. A. (2014) Let US tell YOU! South Asian, Muslim girls tell tales about physical education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 19(4), 398-417.

Walseth, K. (2013). Muslims girls’ experience in physical education in Norway: What role does religiosity plat? Sport Education and Society, 1-13.

With-Nielsen, N., & Pfister, G. (2011). Gender constructions and negotiations in physical education: case studies. Sport, Education and Society, 16(5), 645-664.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
NERA - Nordic Educational Research Association , 2016.
Keywords [en]
Physical education, Religion, Muslim boys
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Education; Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-69878OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-69878DiVA, id: diva2:1259174
Conference
44th Nordic Educational Research Association Congress (NERA), Helsinki, Finland, March 9-11, 2016
Available from: 2018-10-28 Created: 2018-10-28 Last updated: 2019-04-02Bibliographically approved

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