I am a Runner. I say this with confidence. There are many people who know a lot more about running and have done more running. But I would label myself as a ‘runner’. If you took a photo of me and asked me to caption it, I would probably say ‘Mel, runner’ as the title. This is what I see when I look in the mirror. This is the identity that I have given myself. I often wonder what identity my students give themselves and where they get that from – if I took a photo of them and then asked them to identify and label it, what would the write? If I photocopied that photo 3 times and asked for three different identities, what might they choose? Can they see themselves as multiple identities? And is there a natural hierarchy? Do we see those things in PE? How might we help them to know what we see (that they don’t see) as we get to know them? How might we help them to find out who they are and how maybe help them to find new identities?
As a parent, I see multiple identities forming as my children grow and present their personalities and traits, talents and interests. I have been working hard as a parent and a teacher to try and not use language that might offer a bias – try to use descriptive non-gendered terms to explain what I see or how we might do things. Language can put up barriers to how we identify ourselves. Language can sell you short but it can also create new identities we may not have seen before.
Do our identities change over time? Are there dominant ones? Do we have mentors, friends, family members who will offer us constructive advice or support and so help build up our identities? How might we do this better in PE? I am keen to try and foster more explicit teaching and language models that can support positive movement identification – to offer our talented and skilful kids their pathways but more for those who identify ‘weak’ or ‘unskilled’ or are lacking in confidence how do we help them to re-identify and see something different in their photo or in the mirror?