School transitions, folklore, and storytelling related to physical education and sport
Transferring from one level of schooling to another can be one of the most difficult periods in a student's educational career. One source of stress is the scary stories students hear about their new secondary school. Study one collected scary stories about middle schooling in general, and physical education and sport at middle school in particular, from children about to transition from elementary to middle school. Data collection and interpretation were guided by folklore theory and the concepts of rites of passage and rituals of reversal from structural anthropology. Students completed an open-ended story record and participated in a focus group interview and a draw and talk exercise. The key finding was that scary stories about secondary schooling were not as prevalent as in previous British and American studies. Physical education and sport played a minor role in the folklore surrounding the transition from elementary to middle school. Study two sought to discover what scary stories middle school students had heard about the high schools they were to attend (a) in general and (b) about sport and physical education in particular. Data collection and analysis were informed by the theory surrounding role reversal, the rite of passage, and folklore. Participants completed open-ended story records and participate in focus group interviews. Key findings were that high schools were portrayed as inhospitable, cold, and violent places where bullying students and uncaring teachers with impossibly high standards were plentiful. Physical education and school sport, however, appeared to play a minor role in the folklore surrounding student transition. Study three examined the scary stories 51 young African American adults recalled hearing about physical education as they transitioned from elementary to secondary school. They wrote down scary stories that they recalled hearing within a two-item open-ended story record. The key finding was that the scary stories recalled by the African Americans in the current study were similar to those recalled by Caucasians in previous research. Results of the current study also suggested that physical education played only a peripheral role in the African American folklore surrounding school transition.