Towards a pedagogy of love : exploring pre-service teachers' and youth's experiences of an activist sport pedagogical model

Luguetti, Carla and Kirk, D. and Oliver, K. L. (2019) Towards a pedagogy of love : exploring pre-service teachers' and youth's experiences of an activist sport pedagogical model. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 24 (6). pp. 629-646. ISSN 1740-8989 (

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Introduction: Several studies demonstrate the benefits of socially critical work in physical education and sport which value the importance of taking action intended for democracy, empowerment and critical reflection (Devis-devis 2006). An ‘ethic of care’ has been proposed as a moral basis for socio-critical work, describing caring or love as being the basis for pedagogic dialogue and commitment to young people (Rovegno and Kirk 1995). Although we have a body of research on socially critical pedagogy in physical education and sport that highlights the importance of an ethic of care (eg. Ennis 1999; Hellison 1978), there is little research that aims to explore teachers’ and youth’s experiences in living this kind of pedagogy. Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore both pre-service teachers’ and youth’s experiences of an activist sport pedagogical model for working with youth from socially vulnerable backgrounds and to interrogate the way in which a pedagogy of love emerged. Participants and settings: Participatory action research framed this 3-semester study (18 months). Participants included 10 pre-service-teachers (PSTs), 90 youths, and a researcher (the lead author). Data collection/analysis: Data collected included: (a) lead researcher observations collected as field notes; (b) collaborative PSTs group meetings; (c) PSTs’ reflective diaries after each teaching episode; (d) PSTs and youth generated artifacts; and (e) PSTs and youth focus groups and interviews. Data analysis involved induction and constant comparison. Findings: A pedagogy of love emerged when we implemented the activist sport pedagogical model across three semesters in a socially vulnerable context with pre-service teachers and youth. First, a pedagogy of love involved repeatedly challenging inequities. Second, it valued solidarity thereby cultivating a learning community. Finally, it fostered hope and imagination in all participants in order to persevere despite barriers. Implications: We suggest that the activist sport approach could be considered an holistic approach in which teacher/coach and youth interact affectively (Hellison 1978) and showed profound commitment to humanity, conscientization and pedagogic dialogue (Freire 2005).