Researchers Urge Schools to Abandon ‘Oppressive’ and ‘Dehumanizing’ game of Dodgeball

Joy Butler, professor of curriculum and pedagogy at the University of British Columbia, has some harsh words about the age-old sport of dodgeball, where kids literally dodge balls being thrown at their person. She’s one of three education researchers who recently gave a presentation before the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Vancouver, Canada, calling the game “oppressive,” “dehumanizing,” and “miseducative” for children.

“When you’re setting up the environment for students to learn, and you introduce the idea that it’s OK to slam the ball at whomever you like, even if it’s with a soft ball, the intention is there,” Butler told the Washington Post. School P.E. classes, which have long featured the sport, “should be an arena where teachers are helping [students] control their aggression and move on instead of expressing themselves through anger.”

According to Butler and her colleagues, dodgeball “reinforces the five faces of oppression.” These are exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence.

The findings may please those of us who were never very good at ducking those infamous spheres of pain. But critics are already mocking the research as an overreaction — an example of progressive activism in education run a-mock. 

What do you think? Is dodgeball a harmless sport or a cruel and twisted game of oppression?


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