Physical Education Teachers Teaching in a Multicultural Setting: A Case Study of Teacher Knowledge and Practice

By Choi, Wonseok; Chepyator-Thomson, Rose | Journal of Physical Education and Sport, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Physical Education Teachers Teaching in a Multicultural Setting: A Case Study of Teacher Knowledge and Practice


Choi, Wonseok, Chepyator-Thomson, Rose, Journal of Physical Education and Sport


Introduction

Increasingly in the United States, there are drastic cultural differences between teachers and the students they teach. Trends in schools show predominantly white teachers to work with students from mostly underrepresented populations (African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and North American Indians) in U. S. public schools (Aud, Hussar, Planty, Snyder, Bianco, Fox, et al., 2010). Attesting to this trend are several scholars in the area of physical education teacher education who point out the widening gap between the cultural and ethnic diversity of school children and their teachers (Burden, Hodge, & Harrison, 2004; Griffin, 1985). In fact according to the U.S. Department of Education statistics, the percentage of public school students taught by White teachers decreased from 68 to 55 percent between 1988 and 2008, while the percentage of Hispanic student population doubled from 11 to 22 percent (Aud et al.). The mismatch between teachers and students in terms of background characteristics, could hamper the extent to which students gainfully learn new knowledge in schools. Research studies indicate a close association between school demographics such as racial and socio-economic status of students and discipline practices (McLoyd, 1998), which influences the "ability of children to achieve the academic and social gains essential for success in the 21st century (Skiba, Horner, Chung, Rausch, & Tobin, 2011, p. 85). With this trend, Gay (2002) indicates that the majority of teachers need to be prepared with multicultural education knowledge and pedagogical skills to allow for adequate preparedness in teaching diverse students.

With evident-based figures pointing to increases in student diversity in U.S. public schools, and the problems that arise from teachers varying to teacher diversity in schools dissimilar to their upbringing, there is a need to consider multicultural education in physical education teacher education. The goal of multicultural education is to provide prepare teachers to teach to diversity with principles of democracy and equality, which allows for the advancement of learning responsive to all students. In Banks (2008) advocate, teachers ought to develop curricular activities and generate pedagogical strategies responsive to student diversity. Teachers knowledgeable of diversity are influential in the area of multicultural education and tend to have a firm understanding of all cultures, which helps to ensure that each student receives an equal opportunity in educational environments (Sparks, Butt, & Pahnos, 1996). Although there are likely many factors in the school setting that account for differential achievement levels of culturally diverse students, teachers' knowledge and practice are integral to student success in education (Stanley, 1996).

Research studies on multicultural education stimulate discussions on diversity in mainstream academic arena. Further they initiate development of culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum, embracing the apparent wide range of experiences within ethnically, racially and culturally diverse groups (Bank, 2008; Gay, 2002; Hill & Cleven, 2006; Laura, 2011). Educational agencies in physical education advocate for increased consideration of multicultural education through policy initiatives. For instance the standards-based reform in physical education (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 2003) addressed multicultural education through development of a standard that emphasizes the importance of respect for self and others in physical activity settings.

In physical education, a number of research studies examined in-service physical education teachers' knowledge, attitude, and practice in teaching to diversity in schools (Chepyator-Thomson, You, and Russel, 2000; Colum, Foley, and Lytle, 2010; Griffin, 1985; Harrison, Carson, & Burden, 2010; McCauhtry, Barnard, Martin, Shen, & Kulinna, 2006; Sparks et al. …

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