Managing classroom entry : an ecological analysis of ritual interaction and negotiation in the changing room

O'Donovan, T.M. and Kirk, D. (2007) Managing classroom entry : an ecological analysis of ritual interaction and negotiation in the changing room. Sport, Education and Society, 12 (4). pp. 399-413. ISSN 1357-3322

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Abstract

The first interactions between teachers and pupils in physical education often take place in the changing rooms, and, as such, the changing rooms are a useful place to begin an exploration of the processes and practices of negotiation in physical education. Pupils are generally required to change their clothing for physical education lessons, an activity consistently identified as negatively experienced by many young people, and particularly girls (Kay, 1995; Flintoff & Scraton, 2001); hence the changing rooms are an important location to consider in determining young people's engagement with physical education. Throughout this paper, I foreground the naturally occurring interaction between teachers and pupils in the changing rooms of one suburban UK secondary school. This is supplemented by interviews with three teachers and pupils in year 7 (aged 11–12 years) throughout the Spring term. The paper examines how the young people attempted to modify participation requirements in a way that allowed them to pursue their own agendas, and yet also comply with the school, department and teacher rules. Throughout the paper, a consideration of the way in which the teachers held the pupils accountable for their attendance and dress in physical education is present. The orderliness of interaction sequences highlights the ritual nature of pupil–teacher talk in the changing room. The analysis of naturally occurring talk is interspersed with a consideration of how the teachers understood the young people's changing room behaviour.