According to a group of Canadian scientists, one of the most played games in gym classes, dodgeball is used as a tool for “oppression“. Professors from Canadian universities presented before the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Vancouver their paper on this subject where they mention that dodgeball is used to teach the students how to harm others.
Joy Butler, a professor of pedagogy and curriculum development at the University of British Columbia told over a phone interview that when an environment is created where students are told that it is alright to use the softball and hit whomever one likes, then the intention to harm others is present although subtle. Students are told it is okay to do it and this acts as an outlet for their inner aggression. He added that the classes of physical education should be a platform for students to have control over their anger, move beyond it rather than expressing it. Teachers should be telling students methods to control their aggression, not the opposite.
Scientists interviewed students of middle-schools regarding various physical education courses but they learnt repeatedly from some students that they hated dodgeball. They asked further and then matched the answers against the ideas given in Five Faces of Oppression, an article in Justice and the Politics of Difference authored by Iris Marion Young.
Here, Young says that the faces of oppression are, using benefits of other’s work for oneself, pushing a section of the society to a corner, taking away independence from that section of society, making the preferences of the ruling class as norm and making known to the marginalized section that they may be hurt. These points matched with the answers that the researchers got in the interviews.
Scientists found that the athletic students of the class formed their own groups to dominate over the rest of the class and whimsically created their rules. The true definition of competition is where evenly matched teams compete and all the students derive enjoyment from that. When asked in the class for creating a new game using the same ball and two goals, these same set of students developed their version without consulting their friends. This established that the dominating culture spilt to other sections of the physical education class.
Canadian schools are making positive changes in improving P.E classes. Teachers are taking steps to prevent girls from dropping out of their classes. Thus they should also focus in this area and make the curriculum holistic for all. This includes removing dodgeball.