chapter  6
12 Pages

Fostering intercultural competence and social justice through dance and physical education

Finnish PE student teachers’ experiences and reflections
WithMariana Siljamäki, Eeva Anttila

This chapter focuses on the quest to develop approaches to dance and physical education that take into consideration increasingly diverse education environments. Up until a few decades ago, Finland was a relatively homogenous society. As Finland, amongst other countries, is becoming more heterogeneous through increased immigration, cultural pluralism is also becoming a more tangible issue. This chapter discusses how tertiary institutions might address issues of social inclusion and cultural pluralism within their programmes, courses and assignments and what kind of competence physical education (PE) teachers and dance teachers need when they encounter culturally diverse students. PE and dance are areas of education where embodiment is fundamental and central. However, the role of the body and nonverbal communication is often ignored and marginalised in broader debates concerning education. Tensions over cultural identity in Europe and how identity manifests within physical education and dance continue to be an issue that requires critical reflection. This chapter highlights the role of the body and applied use of physical education and dance from the viewpoint of cultural diversity and integration. The authors have delved into trainee PE teachers’ reflections on intercultural encounters that were generated in connection to experiential learning interventions in Jyväskylä, Finland, in which the students facilitated kinaesthetic language-learning workshops for asylum seekers, refugees and recently immigrated individuals and groups. The authors have sought to understand the students’ experiences rather than determine the causes behind and results emerging from the experience and aim to understand how intercultural encounters may function as transformative experiences, shifting professional dispositions towards social inclusion and cultural integration. The findings of the study are discussed in this chapter, with the focus being on the intercultural learning process of PE students whilst encountering people from different cultures.