sports culture as a place to learn literacy: an interview with Luke Rodesiler | Teachers College Press

Luc Rodesiler is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Department of Teacher Education at Purdue University in Fort Wayne. His work has been published in various academic media, including Education in English, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Teaching English: practical and criticaland English newspaper. He is also the author of a new book titled Bringing Sports Culture to the English Classroom: An Interest-Based Approach to Teaching Literacywhich will be out this month from Teachers College Press.

Isabelle Nunez is Professor of Educational Studies and Dean of the School of Education at Purdue University in Fort Wayne. She holds a doctorate. in Curriculum Studies from the University of Illinois, Chicago; an M.Phil. in Cultural Studies from the University of Birmingham; and a JD from UCLA Law. She has published three books with Teachers College Press (Hope and Joy in Education: Engaging Daisaku Ikeda in Curriculum and Context, Worth a Punch: Why Education Policy Is Every Teacher’s Businessand Diving In: Bill Ayers and the Art of Teaching in Contradiction). His work has appeared in Curriculum survey, pedagogical studiesthe Journal of Curriculum Theorizingand College of Teachers Register. She is currently the American Educational Research Association’s Vice President for Division B, Curriculum Studies.


Isabelle Nunez: What role has sports culture played at different stages of your own literacy development journey?

Luc Rodesiler: Sports culture has played a central role in my literacy development, but generally far beyond the walls of the classroom.

Reading was a routine pastime in the house I grew up in, and the most treasured of all everyday texts was the sports page. My dad received three papers – the two main Detroit papers and one local – so there was fresh content and multiple perspectives to consider daily. Naturally, reading these articles sparked a discussion about a columnist’s take or predictions for upcoming games, so it was also great fuel for developing literacy practices associated with speaking and speaking. listen. But contributions to my literacy development have not only come from print. My personal sports interests have also allowed me to create my own stories. I was really into pro wrestling as a kid and generated all kinds of stories playing with WWE (born WWF) action figures during my elementary years. Hulk Hogan was the champion for most of the 80s, but I preferred guys like Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat. While playing with these toys, I have to be the delivery boy, create original stories in my head and carry out these stories for hours. Then, as I got older, competition in organized sports as a teenager inspired me to adopt literacy practices like writing goals for my own performance and that of the teams I played on. So sports culture has steadily contributed to my literacy development over time, even if it hasn’t often made its way to the classroom.

IN: Do you still learn with and from sports-related texts to better understand the world and communicate more effectively?

L/R: Absolutely. A few titles that have helped in this regard immediately come to mind. Julie DiCaro Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America is a. Reading this book has helped me deepen my understanding of sports culture (and the world at large) by giving me insight into experiences different from those I have had personally. Another is Proud, a memoir written by Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first hijab-wearing Muslim American to compete for the United States Olympic team. I can’t claim to be a fencing enthusiast, but Muhammad’s story really shines a light on the unnecessary barriers (eg racism, xenophobia) that can stifle anyone’s dreams, be they athletic Or other. And it’s not just non-fiction that’s informative in this way. Reading sports-related fiction can work the same way. For example, in a recent collaboration with Mark Lewis, I spent a lot of time with The password booka novel by Isaac Fitzsimons, and the other boy, a novel by MG Hennessey. Both books feature a young transgender athlete as the protagonist. At a time when anti-LGBTQ+ lawmakers are actively erasing transgender youth from interscholastic sports, these books make it easier to empathize with kids who are just trying to live their lives and pursue their sporting interests, but find themselves battling bullies. transphobic or restrictive policies. For this reason, I hope everyone will take a look at these two titles.

IN: How did you come to appreciate the potential of sports-related texts to engage young people in the English language arts classroom?

L/R: I must give credit to the people I worked with during my progression through an initial teacher education program in the early 2000s. I was fortunate to learn from teacher trainers like Leslie David Burns and Jory Brass, who introduced me “Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys”: Literacy in Young Men’s Lives by Michael W. Smith and Jeffrey D. Wilhelm and fellowship from Ernest Morrell and Jeffrey M. Duncan-Andrade, who helped me see the possibilities of bringing popular cultural texts into the classroom. Then, as a high school English teacher, I was able to apply those ideas by supplementing study units with content that spoke to students’ athletic interests. So reading this research and scholarship as a future teacher gave me a foundation on which to build my own classroom practice, where I saw firsthand the value of tapping into the knowledge, interests and students’ experiences of sports culture. Now I try to help other teachers see the possibilities for themselves.

IN: What impact do you expect Bringing Sports Culture to the English Class will have on readers in various contexts?

L/R: When I was incorporating sports-related texts into the high school ELA class, I had no idea that a stand-alone sports literature course like the four featured in the book was an option. Therefore, I hope the book will help practicing and prospective teachers and program coordinators see what I couldn’t. I hope this will help them envision what is possible and inspire them to create unconventional lessons that will appeal to the students they serve while supporting literacy teaching and learning. And I wouldn’t limit that to sports literature classes, either. Maybe that means creating courses that focus on graphic novels or the study of film. Who knows? Furthermore, I hope the book will inspire teachers who, although perhaps unable to teach a course in sports literature, wish to make room for sports-related texts in their curricula. Four secondary sports literature courses are featured in the book, but ideas for adapting the activities to a more traditional English language arts course are also included.

IN: If there was only one idea from your book that a high school English teacher was going to use in their class, which one would you like it to be?

L/R: If I had to push just one notion, I think it would be the general idea that sports culture can provide safe anchors for students to critically explore contemporary sociopolitical issues. As documented in the book, this work can take different forms. Sometimes it’s through reading an entire class text, like exploring how a football coach challenges traditional ideology of masculinity in Jeffrey Marx. season of life or problematize idolatry with John Grisham bleachers. Sometimes it’s through student-led research and inquiry, like investigating the exploitation of college athletes or critically analyzing the marginalization of women in popular sports media. Whatever form the work takes, sports culture can provide valuable frames of reference as students wade through murky waters to examine issues of power, privilege and marginalization that are relevant far beyond the wider world. Sport. And digging into these kinds of issues is appropriate because students are people who live in this world like you or me and, as such, their lives are already affected by them.


picture by Pixabay

Amanda J. Marsh