Education for social change? A Freirean critique of sport for development and peace

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Spaaij, Ramon ORCID: 0000-0002-1260-3111 and Jeanes, Ruth (2012) Education for social change? A Freirean critique of sport for development and peace. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 18 (4). pp. 442-457. ISSN 1740-8989 (print) 1742-5786 (online)


Background: The previous two decades have witnessed an increasing number of policymakers and practitioners using sport programmes to achieve broader social development aims, particularly in countries in the Global South. A core element of these programmes has been the use of sport as a context to provide young people with social, personal and health education. However, despite the educative focus of the ‘sport for development and peace’ (SDP) movement, there has been limited analysis within the existing literature of the pedagogies used and whether these are appropriate for achieving the aims of SDP programmes. This article seeks to review and critique the core pedagogical strategies used in SDP initiatives. Theoretical framework: This article draws on Paulo Freire's critical pedagogy as a theoretical framework to examine education through sport in the Global South. The authors consider Freire's work to provide a number of aspects that are relevant to SDP education. Freire has long been established as the standard-bearer of critical pedagogy globally including contexts relevant to where SDP education takes place. His work offers a conceptual framework that challenges the status quo and offers marginalized groups the opportunity to enhance their agency, outcomes that are at the heart of the SDP movement. This article outlines key themes associated with Freirean pedagogy including the politicization of education, the possibility of transformation through education and the importance of dialogical education for creating ‘critically transitive consciousness’. Discussion: We use these core foundational concepts to critique existing pedagogical strategies in SDP and outline how they currently do not go far enough in providing a truly transformative educational experience for participants. The discussion considers the use of traditional didactic, peer education and relationship-building pedagogies in SDP and analyses the limitations of each of these using the critical lens of Freire's pedagogy. Conclusion: We conclude by outlining how Freirean pedagogy could be better utilized within SDP education and outline some of the practical implications of doing so. The need for flexibility in SDP curriculum development is highlighted and the importance of ensuring that this is grounded within a local context, dealing with specific local issues, is also noted. This is at odds with the current movement within SDP to standardize the education that takes place within this context. We also consider the implications for recruiting and training educators to deliver a more critical pedagogy, outlining some of the qualities such individuals should be seeking to develop in order to engage in a more transformative education process through sport.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/17408989.2012.690378
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords belonging, boundary work, refugees, settlement, sport
Citations in Scopus 109 - View on Scopus
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