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Gender equity issues in secondary physical education
Physical education classes should be conducted jointly regardless of gender. The inception of Title 9 way back in 1972 required that secondary school physical education programs operate under the coeducational system. What does this mean? This in essence meant that girls and boys were required to learn together under the same environment. As such, it was regardless of the childââ‚¬â„¢s physical abilities. Critics of the Title 9 provisions sharply conflict with their proponents arguing that children with physical disabilities should be given special treatment and made to learn and participate in different environments. The main reason behind this being; these children are often slow in learning than their peers who are normal.
This paper will therefore explore the mixed-gender physical education in secondary schools and suggest better ways of overcoming the challenges posed by this kind of programs. The paper will further explore problems that gender equality brings into the secondary school learning environment among the special needs children.
According to Penney (2002), Title 9 prohibits sex discrimination in all education programs as well as activities. The provision prohibits gender inequality among secondary school receiving federal funds. Thus, boys and girls are meant to learn under the same learning environment regardless of their special needs. This provision has indeed been overtaken by time and should be revised. The requirements under Title 9 have conflicted with the beliefs and practices of people. For instance, in Islam, boys and girls are not allowed to sit together let alone be subdued under the same learning environment. The cultural and religious conflict that this provision has brought will be difficult to let go (Kirk, MacDonald & O'Sullivan, 2006).
Adaptations will need to be given special consideration in physical education. This is because, children in secondary schools with special needs learn and participate at different rates compared to those without. These children cannot be lumped together with the normal students. Special needs students in secondary schools will thus require a case by case approach to ensure that they succeed in their academic endeavors.
According to Woods (2007), physical educators face many problems. One of the most pronounced problems is overcrowded learning environments as well as lack of adequate facilities. This is likely to affect the pace of learning for the students with special needs. Physical educators insinuate that special needs students require a separate well equipped learning environment to enable them have access to most of the facilities that their condition calls for. Therefore, putting boys and girls with special needs to learn and participate with students who do not have any special needs is indeed jeopardizing their very future as they will be slow to learn and thus slim their chances of success.
In addition, physical educators face a challenge on how to teach the students with special needs among those without. Their approach is normally to teach both students under the same learning environment, then single out those with special needs and teach them separately, an activity that is normally painstaking.
In the recent past, there has been a red alert in relation to the manner in which boys and girls with special needs are mixed and taught with the other children who are considered to be normal (Kirk, MacDonald & O'Sullivan, 2006). Critics suggest that this may compromise the rights of the special needs children in physical education facets.
The result of this has been a time-crunched teaching schedule for the physical educators. When the Title 9 came into effect, it was meant to limit or reduce discrimination of children with special needs as well as eliminate gender biasness. However, with the challenges faced by the physical educators, it is evident that girls and boys have different physical education needs. This is more so if they are special needs children. Physical educators should therefore seek ways of addressing these needs separately other than lumping them together.
Does the instruction given to the boys differ from that given to the girls? The answer to this under the current physical education program is definitely, no. however, there are many challenges faced by the physical educators including varied responses among girls and those with special needs. Gender relations in the secondary school environment often dictates the kind of teaching practices that the physical educators are likely to employ.
Currently, the biggest problem lies in the teaching practices that are used among these children as well as the equity in gender. According to Schwab and Gelfman (2005), there are serious equity problems among mixed gender classes. There are many activities that both genders perform differently. This makes the need for boys and girls to be taught under different environments, lest the pace of delivering teaching content for the physical educators is greatly affected.
Students with special needs required special attention. Title 9 does not however provide for this since it generalizes that secondary school student should all learn and participate under the same given environment (Klein, 2007). The result of this is that the students with special education will not be able to perform better or learn effectively due to lack of the required facilities as well as the conducive learning environment.
The implications of Title 9 are numerous. First, physical educators are exposed to the likelihood of physical injury to the students. Subsequently, this may lead to litigation as the students will seek a legal suit against the teachers. The physical educators will therefore be held liable for any negligent injury suffered by the students.
Furthermore, students are likely to learn actively if mixed. This is a positive attribute to the provisions of Title 9. Physical educators are often at task trying to ensure equitable delivery of the learning material for physical education among the students.
Perhaps the other implication of Title 9 provisions is that students will be able to learn under similar learning conditions thus increasing their chances of interaction and possibly helping each other (Hayes & Stidder, 2003). This will boost their learning prospects as far as physical education is concerned.
Therefore, the provisions of Title 9 help promote gender equity while at the same time disadvantaging the special needs students in secondary schools. It often puts much pressure to the physical educators to deliver their teaching curriculum with much equity too. The result of this is that the physical educators are likely to injure the secondary school students and thus put themselves at the risk of litigation arising out of their alleged negligence.