Dodgeball is being as a means for “oppression,” according to Canadian professors. The Washington Post reports that educators from three of the country's universities believer that dodgeball in physical education classes teaches children to dehumanize and act violently towards their peers.
“When you’re setting up the environment for students to learn, and you introduce the idea that it’s okay to slam the ball at whomever you like, even if it’s with a soft ball, the intention is there,” Joy Butler, a professor who studies pedagogy and curriculum development at University of British Columbia, said.
She explained how many say dodgeball is “used as an outlet for aggression or catharsis,” but gym classes should be a space where teachers help students “control their aggression and move on instead of expressing themselves through anger.”
Researchers asked middle school-age students general questions about physical education courses and kept being told the same thing: They hate dodgeball. The professionals noticed that the more athletic and commanding students in the class made the rules without asking the other students and made their own teams, permitting them to gang up on other kids.
“If one thing were to come out of this it would be for P.E. teachers to look at their curriculums and look for balance,” Butler said. “And that could mean dropping games and including other activities: outdoor education, fitness, gymnastics, aquatics.”
For Butler, it also means that schools should get rid of dodgeball.
“The message is that it’s okay to hurt or dehumanize the ‘other,’” Butler told the Post. “The competition is about annihilating one’s opponent, and the true definition of competition is between two evenly matched teams. Well, kids stack their teams, and they really enjoy beating the other team. What’s the enjoyment of that?”