Fully Involved: young women and the pedagogical potential of moving through fire and water

Lambert, K. (Contributor)

Activity: Community Talks, Presentations, Exhibitions and EventsPublic lecture/debate/seminar


Our contemporary physical activity, leisure and physical education contexts, like our societies, are filled with diversity – of cultures, identities, abilities, bodies – yet in the main movement continues to be taught through a fairly homogenous lens via segregation, colonial programming, and unimaginative pedagogies that privilege particular kinds of bodies and movement competencies. When this is merged with the measuring and reporting of bodily (in)abilities - as physical education and sport often does - young people, especially those from diverse backgrounds have their differences under constant surveillance. So as opposed to advocating acceptance and enacting an engagement, enjoyment and improvement focus movement educators (un)knowingly construct an inadequacy and embarrassment context in their classrooms, gyms, clubs, and sports fields. As a result many young people from diverse backgrounds (where diverse means not white and not male, as well as not able) are alienated from each other, their instructors, themselves, and from movement. I’d like to think this separation along lines of difference is not always intentional, it is however always exclusionary – and in the case of young women and movement is universal and pervasive (ref) as well as a well worn storyline in need of re-writing. Therefore research into new and innovative strategies for getting young women ‘fully involved’ in movement pursuits in and out of school contexts needs to more suitably make an account of diversity. This requires some big shifts in terms of research methodologies and movement pedagogies as well as an effort to seek out innovations from other fields, countries and even professions. It also requires asking young women ‘what works’, why, under what conditions, and with what kinds of outcomes for them. In this respect a group of professional female fire fighters in North America may have found something innovative for us to learn from – fire fighting camps for young women.

This paper reports on preliminary findings from research that asks the young women who participate in the camps what works for them, why and how. It builds upon a small pilot project exploring the camp structure and organization as well as the impact of the camps on participants as narrated by those who run them. This research seeks to establish even more proof of concept by capturing the experiences of the young women moving through fire and water whilst on camp. It is anticipated the data will open a space from which to newly theorise the intersection of movement, diversity and identity as well as to identify the quality and nature of the movement pedagogies employed and transferability to other movement contexts. As such the questions informing this research are:
• How do the young women experience the camps? What is the self reported perceived or actual impact of them? Are there any other spin offs in relation to diversity, gender identity, and social capital?
• Can/do the youth fire fighting camps provide an embodied educational and occupational dimension that is as yet untapped as a pedagogical movement option for young women?
• What might such pedagogical movement practices and options look like in school, sport, and leisure contexts?
• In what ways might the camps promote better social responsibility and culturally responsive practices in school, sport, and leisure contexts?

This research uses a mixed method design consisting of:
• Surveys (pre and post online surveys of young women camp participants regarding measures of involvement in movement, confidence, self esteem, self efficacy and sociality)(target is n=30-50)
• Interviews (young women camp participants)(target is n= 10-20)
• Interviews (young women camp volunteers who had in the past been participants)(target is n=4-6)
• Participant observation (ethnographic/autoethnographic fieldwork notes, photography, videography, document collection)
Event titleInternational Association for Physical Education in Higher Education Conference 2017
Event typeConference
LocationGosier, Guadeloupe