Using a Social Justice Lens when Training Future Physical Educators for the Inclusion of Students With Disabilities


  • Lindsey Nowland Old Dominion University
  • Candace Brink West Virginia University
  • Martin E. Block West Virginia University


General physical education, adapted physical education, disabilities, teacher training, social justice


Most children with disabilities are included in general physical education (Snyder, de Brey & Dillow, 2016). Unfortunately, interviews with students with disabilities suggest that they often do not feel they have been properly accommodated and welcomed by their physical education teacher (Lieberman & Block, 2017). Additionally, physical educators consistently report not feeling adequately prepared for inclusion (Obrusnikova & Block, 2016). It is well known that most physical education teacher education programs only require one course in adapted physical education, and information in these courses tend to focus on disabilities, legal requirements, and general strategies for modifications (Kwon, 2018; Piletic & Davis, 2010). Placing a child with a disability in general physical education without support may not meet the intent of inclusion. Perhaps adding a rationale for inclusion and for accommodating and welcoming students with disabilities could be presented through a social justice lens. The purpose of this paper is to present the use of social justice in introductory adapted physical education courses as a means of changing future physical educators’ attitudes toward working with students with disabilities. The paper will begin with an introduction of ableism and an ablelistic mindset that can lead to stereotypes and prejudice. This will be followed by a definition of social justice and presentation of the three key principles of social justice (equality, equity, and participation) with application to training future physical educators.





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