Critical Pedagogy as an anti-bullying strategy

  • 11 Pages
  • Published On: 29-11-2023


Menesini & Salmivalli (2017) defined bullying as a prolonged behaviour of psychological intimidation, social rejection, physical aggression and or verbal abuse against someone by others, whereby the victim is repeatedly and defencelessly experiencing negative actions carried out by the aggressor. While some researchers have continued to consider bullying as a form of aggression that is unidimensional (Volk et al, 2017), others (Volk et al 2017; Gaffney et al 2019) consider it as a multidimensional form of aggression that differs between the form of aggression (i.e. physical, social or verbal aggression) and purpose (i.e. instrumental, defensive or offensive aggression). This study seeks to explore bullying as a cultural issue that will affect future forms of physical education (PE) and to develop a learning resource that would address the issue of bullying. Ultimately, the paper will analyse how the learning resource would address bullying. Bullying is one of the problems currently facing the education sector and will remain a significant issue to deal with in future. Zych et al (2017) and Thomas et al (2017) speculated that between 10-35% of school communities are facing the problem of bullying depending on different contexts. Similarly, authors such as Weimer and Moreira (2014) and Fuller et al (2013) have related bullying episodes to physical education (PE) environments. Whatsapp In this case, Stanley et al (2012) suggested that bullying victims tend to avoid environments or contexts that make them feel vulnerable, an example of which is the context of physical activities. Consequently, these students tend to distance themselves from PE, and this encourages school absenteeism. Furthermore, according to Tischler & McCaughtry (2011), the students’ tendency to avoid PE denies them the opportunity to access the social, physical and other general benefits of PE. However, researchers have suggested some PE activities that can be used as remedies for bullying. For instance, Hodgson et al (2018) pointed out that adventure-based learning (ABL) in PE can act as an effective anti-bullying initiative because they promote participants’ resiliency skills, promote classroom safety and reduce bullying behaviour. On the same note, Fitzpatrick (2019) noted that ABL is suitable for addressing bullying among students because it involves various aspects of critical pedagogy such as teacher control and authority, inclusion, democracy and student's voice. Through critical pedagogy, according to Zembylas (2018), ABL facilitates anti-bullying initiatives by helping students to challenge and question domination and enhances the students’ critical consciousness towards practices and beliefs that dominate them. Because one of the main objectives of critical pedagogy is to facilitate the students to gain the necessary social skills that help them participate in inclusive and transformed democratic community Giroux (2019), teachers can use ABL as an approach to help students that have been bullied and excluded the power have an input in their lives. In the subsequent section, this study developed an orienteering activity as a form of ABL that can be used to address the issue of bullying in a school context. The activity draws evidence from the British Orienteering Federation to set up a series of activities that would rely on critical pedagogy to address the issue of bullying.

The Orienteering activity

At this level, the children are expected not to have any knowledge of orienteering. Therefore, the activity will start by briefing the students on the general understanding of rules, how to orient themselves with the activities and the tactics they should use when orienteering. They are also expected to develop an enjoyment and appreciation of the activity.

Learning Objective

This activity seeks to benefit the 6-13-year-old students in three major domains namely the cognitive domain and the social domain.

The cognitive domain

  • Students will understand the maps and know how to read the map symbols
  • Students will understand how to apply various tactics such as route planning
  • Students will develop an appreciation for the sport

Social Domain

  • Students will have fun and enjoy orienteering
  • Students will develop personal confidence when orienteering individually
  • Students will develop an appreciation for the sportStudents will develop teamwork skills when orienteering in a group
  • Students will be motivated to fully participate in the activities

Warm Up activities

Before engaging in any of the activities, students will be required to warm up and develop agility through the following procedure:


To develop physical agility Activity Organization
  • Students are introduced to the concept of mark running:
  • Ask the students to take a position in which there are first placed together then placed shoulders apart Sl-ii-ding – students should then slide back one of their legs while still maintaining both legs at a shoulders-apart position. Both feet should face forward. Ask the students to bend their knees while having their backs up straight up Ask the students to bend their elbows at 90 degrees while holding the opposite harm parallel to the forward leg Ask the students to roll on to balls of feet so that their heels are off the ground while maintaining balance While still on the balls of feet, students should move forward and increase their strides after taking three steps forward
      Mark run for 20-25 minutes with a flat spot. The students should increase their strides as they exit the third step while shortening their strides as they approach the stopping spotThey should then push off from the stopping spot with the lead leg and return to the same spot
  • Ensure the students repeat the entire activity without missing any step
  • The orienteering Obstacle Challenge Activity


    • 2 boxes
    • 6 cones
    • A ladder
    • 4 small hoops
    • 2 large hoops
    • A stopwatch
    • Resource obstacle map
    • 1 resource score sheet per group


    1. Identify a full-length space and set up the equipment. Each group will need one set of equipment
    2. Organize the children into small groups of (i.e. two groups of 3 students)
    3. The run will take the form of a relay. At the start, each child will puck up a map, negoti
    4. The child is then expected to run back around the outside of the equipment line to tag the next person who then starts the run
    5. This iteration should continue until the teacher blows a whistle. The teacher will allow practice time then give 5 minutes to each group
    6. Each team’s score is determined by the total number of maps deposited in all the boxes
    7. (British Orienteering Federation

    The activity allows the teacher to engage in critical pedagogy because they will give the students a chance to make choices, engage in teamwork, solve problems and listen to each other. The outdoor activity not only provides a bit of variety to the monotony of the classroom wall but also helps to get the children into their best behaviour. According to Penney & Chandler (2000), outdoor learning encourages students to be well-mannered, polite and tolerant with each other because there is more sharing and thus more kindness with each other. In other words, children generally have fun and are more tolerant of each other. By placing the children in two groups of three, the activity provides an opportunity for collaboration and coordination among the children as they struggle to achieve a common goal – to win the game. While discussing critical pedagogy and its application in outdoor learning, Kirk (2009) pointed out that activities that allow students to collaborate and openly enquire from each other create a fully human environment where each participant questions their roles in the cultural, social, and political aspects of the activity while accentuating the existing relationships between language and power. By inquiring from each other through teamwork, the children can self-examine their relationship with the people, the experiences and the place within which the activity takes place (Ennis, 1984). Hill & Sweeney (2019) argues that as the children self-examine their relationships, they find an opportunity to improve on how they relate to each other. This confirms MacDonald’s (2015) assertions that critical pedagogy is not a matter of identifying and acknowledging that things are not right but rather, it is about identifying the kind of assumptions or unconsidered modes of thoughts that facilitate the negative thoughts and behaviours and against each other. Markham (2019) writes that critical pedagogy helps students to independently identify injustices and how their roles in power relationships then translate this awareness into action. The orienteering activity described above will encourage the students to be independent and inquisitive because they must independently investigate how they will work as a team to place as many maps in the drop box as possible. By asking the children to work in small groups and/or on their own, the children are encouraged to question each other regardless of the power balance between them, to think critically and learn from their own experiences (Tinning, 2020). The activity will be an opportunity for the children, through the teacher’s assistance, to examine issues of past, present, and future interpersonal relations and social conflicts. According to Sardabi et al (2018), this deep examination of social injustices through ABL facilitates power transformation. Order Now Darder et al (2017) wrote about the importance of enabling the oppressed finding their place within the system and how this discovery of one’s role helps them find freedom from the titles and labels that falsely define them. In this regard, the proposed activity will encourage the children to be responsible for their own learning experiences, develop social skills and teamwork, and discover their roles in social relations that proves essential for guiding how they socially relate with each other. Kincheloe et al (2018) pointed out that in the process of identifying one’s role (i.e. self-discovery), various power relations and language used to develop and maintain those roles are highlighted and this provides space for questioning, and an opportunity for change. The self-discovery created by the orienteering activity is important for addressing the issue of bullying because otherwise, according to Kincheloe et al (2018), one continues with the system of bullying without examining their position of questioning it. On the same note, Hess (2017) argued that it is impossible to challenge power without self-discovery. Therefore, the proposed orienteering activity will help to address the issue of bullying by helping the kids to understand their function and place within the system, confront that system and transform it. Fundamentally, critical pedagogy is not only about helping the kids to learn about social injustice through awareness but also asking the question of “who benefits?” and “how can change be achieved?” (De Lissovov, 2018). This implies that critical pedagogy moves beyond just asking identifying the injustices to conduct an in-depth analysis of the role that it plays in the power imbalance that fuels activities of social injustice such as bullying. Through the proposed ABL, children will have a chance to be creative enough to express themselves in different ways and share knowledge of what they have learned to facilitate tolerance, teamwork and friendship. This will not only help in identifying who benefits from the power imbalance among the kids but also create social cohesion to diffuse that power imbalance. In conclusion, this paper has identified bullying as a cultural issue that affects the future of PE and youth sports. Specifically, bullying has been identified as an issue because it encourages absenteeism. Absenteeism prevents the children from reaping the physical and social benefits of PE. To address the issue of bullying, the paper has proposed an orienteering activity that will encourage the children to be responsible for their own learning experiences, develop social skills and teamwork and discover their roles in social relations that proves essential for guiding how they socially relate with each other.

    Dig deeper into Creating an Inclusive Learning Space with our selection of articles.


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    Fuller, B., K. Gulbrandson, and B. Herman-Ukasick. 2013. Bully prevention in the Gaffney, H., Ttofi, M.M. and Farrington, D.P., 2019. Evaluating the effectiveness of school-bullying prevention programs: An updated meta-analytical review. Aggression and violent behavior, 45, pp.111-133.

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