(Article 3 of 5)
[5-Part Article Series]
People with physical disabilities hold limited positions as scholars, teachers, or leaders in physical education, recreation, and sports. Perhaps the reason is that the field is flooded with able-bodied people who think they know best. But do they? Michael Oliver, imminent writer, and scholar argued that people with physical disabilities should be the only ones in the field of disability studies because they have a bodily experience with disabilities. The following five-part article series shares the perspective of a scholar in the field of sports disability who has his own physical limitations. In each article, he discusses a different issue a person with a physical disability faces in the profession of physical education, recreation and sport.
Part III: The Power of Time
I have heard able-bodied teachers say, “I don’t have time to teach inclusion.” I believe what they are really saying is the extra preparation is not worth his/her time. Fact: it does take more time to fully include students with physical disabilities in physical education, recreation, and sport. The very idea of ”giving more” time can be overwhelming. However, if pressed would these professionals argue that failing to provide inclusion actually denies their able-bodied students a truly challenging physical education experience? I believe that time is the real issue and but I also believe every student, able-bodied or not, can have a great experience.
We live in a fast-paced able-bodied society. When able-bodied professionals become experts they will create general physical education lessons plans for the able-bodied class in a timely way. But what happens when they have a student with a physical disability who wants to fully participate in the activity? The teacher then must take the time and create adaptations for the student to succeed. As a person with a Traumatic Brain Injury, I understand it takes more time.
I grew up around able-bodied individuals in my house, at school, and when playing sports. I have the mindset of an able-bodied person and I believe I can do anything. Growing up with my physical limitations, however, I was always in a world of rush. I myself believed I was behind everything, and I was consistently trying to keep up because I knew it would take me more time. I was worried I did not have enough time, just like teachers worry they might not have enough preparation time. I would think to myself that I did not have enough time to complete a physical task, and then I would stop trying. It wasn’t until my doctorate program that I learned to slow down. My mentor understood the concept of time and that it takes time to include a student with a physical disability in the classroom. She understood the importance of being a mentor and took the extra time that I needed because of my Traumatic Brain Injury.
A teacher must make time for students with physical disabilities to be successful and when they make the time the benefits are never-ending. By my mentor taking the extra time that I needed, I knew I was worthy and capable of doing tasks that I never imagined I would be doing. Physical education teachers and coaches who take the extra time are heroes to students with physical disabilities. Those students have found someone who sees them as worthy of time. These teachers are willing to teach and coach them. Taking the time will be life-changing for you, the professional, and for the student with a physical disability. Take the time, you won’t regret it.
Follow the 5-Part Series this Month
Leading as a Scholar with a Physical Limitation
- Don’t Judge Me by My Gait
- I Am Not an Object or Incompetent
- The Power of Time
- If You Cannot Do It – Can You Teach It?
- Just Talk to Me
This series was written by Aubrey Shaw, Ph.D. and edited by dr. Sharon Stoll (University of Idaho)