|dc.description.abstract||Physical Education has long been recognised as the domain of the physically ‘able’ (Barton 1993, 2009). As a result, many students with physical disabilities who do not display the socially constructed abilities, movements or body types privileged in Physical Education remain sidelined or absent from the subject (Barton, 1993, 2009; Evans, 2004; Fitzgerald, 2005). In this thesis I explore the Physical Education experiences of those perceived as physically ‘disabled’. The display, surveillance and use of one’s body is foregrounded in Physical Education more than in any other school subject (Fitzgerald & Stride, 2012), yet the experiences of students with different bodies have rarely been explored.
Drawing on theoretical resources found in the disciplines of Childhood Studies, Disability Studies, the Sociology of the Body, Physical Education and Teaching and Learning, I examine six students with physical disabilities’ experiences of secondary school Physical Education in New Zealand. I examine what kinds of movements, bodies and abilities are privileged in the students’ experiences` of Physical Education and ask questions about why and how this is the case. Further I investigate what school-based Physical Education does to, and for, young people with physical disabilities, drawing on the young people’s testimonies to understand how the subject and its imperatives shape their subjectivities.
While environmental, social, cultural, pedagogical and political interests clearly constrain the young people’s capacity to engage with Physical Education, their narratives point to the ways young people can, and do, exercise agency, challenge orthodoxies and resist the normative expectations of Physical Education as it is currently configured in some New Zealand schools. The young people in this study challenge how we come to know disabled, able and normal bodies and raise questions about whose needs, interests and capacities are privileged in Physical Education.||