Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Legacy of a Pioneer African American Educator

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Legacy of a Pioneer African American Educator

Article excerpt

Purpose: The purpose was to reconstruct the historical and legendary contribution of one exemplary African American physical education teacher educator who lived and worked in the Deep South prior to and immediately following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education court case. The following questions guided data collection and analysis: To what extent was the participant marginalized in his profession and within the community? How were the paiticipant's life experiences influenced by stereotype threat? To what degree did self-efficacy help mediate marginalization and stereotype threat? Method: The participant in this study was Dr. Archie Wade, a retired professor of physical education teacher education from the University of Alabama. A life-history methodology was used. Data were collected primarily through semistructured interviews and were analyzed using qualitative methods. Results: Key findings were that Wade faced race-based marginalization throughout his life. He dealt with stereotype threat but was not significantly influenced by it. He persevered partly due to his strong sense of self-efficacy. Conclusions: Wade was transformed as the old South changed and played a part in that transformation. His story is simultaneously uplifting, in that it illustrates the extent to which life has improved for some African Americans living in the Deep South, and sobering, in that it reveals that the region's system of higher education may not have made as much progress as it should have. Wade's story also has the potential to be a catalyst for change in the lives of other teachers and teacher educators.

Keywords: life history, marginalization

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Life history is a qualitative research design that can be particularly effective in giving voice to those who are otherwise silenced (Sparkes, Templin, & Schempp, 1993; Squires & Sparkes, 1996). Rather than employing a single technique, it can involve the use of a range of data collection strategies including the examination of documents and the writing of biographies and case histories based on interviews (Sparkes, 1993). Moreover, as noted by Goodson (1980), life history enables researchers to unearth the link between a teacher's personality and pedagogy:

   In understanding something so intensely personal as
   teaching, it is critical that we know about the person the
   teacher is. Our paucity of knowledge in this area is a
   manifest indictment of the range of our sociological
   imagination. The life historian pursues the job from his
   own perspective, a perspective which emphasizes the value
   of the person's "own story." (p. 69)

Crucially, because it involves the telling of a teacher's "life story" and examining how this story is shaped by historical, social, and political factors (Dollard, 1949; Goodson, 1980, 1992), life history also serves to explain how the wider context impacts teachers and teaching.

Life Histories of American Physical Educators

While the design has been used to good effect by sport pedagogues working in other countries (e. g., Armour, 1997; Sparkes et al., 1993), to date, there have been relatively few life histories conducted with American physical education teachers and, as far as we are aware, none with American physical education teacher education (PETE) faculty. Perhaps the earliest study using this methodology in the United States was carried out by Earls (1981), who produced case studies of "distinctive teachers" with the goal of describing the qualities that made them highly effective. In the next decade, Schempp (1993) used life history to examine how one high school physical education teacher constructed knowledge, and Templin, Sparkes, Grant, and Schempp (1994) employed an interactionist framework to construct the life history of a veteran physical education teacher and reveal how he dealt with subject marginalization and teacher-coach role strain. Similarly, Curtner-Smith (1997, 1998, 2001) recorded the life history of 1st-year physical education teachers through the lens of occupational socialization theory and focused on how the teachers' acculturation, professional socialization, and organizational socialization influenced their teaching. …

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