Voices of #PhysEd
I want to write about something deeply personal today. Over the last couple of years, I have been blown away by the people who are part of the online digital physical education community. The passion that so many physical education professionals exude digitally is contagious and I am continually motivated and inspired by these connections. I can say the same for PHYSEDagogy. The relationships I have–professionally and personally–with Matt, Naomi, Collin, Jonathan and Sarah have been so empowering that I no longer feel isolated as a physical educator within the boundaries of my classroom walls. I am forever grateful for this community.
Andy Vasily talked about Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, in his keynote for #PhysEdSummit 1.0. As a digital physical education community our tipping point has arrived as evidenced by our greater influence within our profession. We can tangibly see our impact on state and national organizations, programs, businesses, and even politicians. This growing influence has fueled my desire to finally address what I feel is an “elephant in the room” within our digital community.
As our influence continues to grow, I want to ask the question:
Do we have the equity of voice our profession needs as part of the discussion?
Several months ago I tweeted out an informal survey, “Who is tweeting PE?” While a small sample size, the results confirmed some things I have felt about our Twitter PLN for a long time.
- Gender approximately a 50/50 split on respondents identifying as female/male
- 63% of respondents identified as between the ages of 31-49
- 94% of respondents identified as Caucasian/White
- 1% identified as African American, 1% Latino/Hispanic, 1% Native American, 3% Asian
- 93% of respondents identified English as their first language
As our influence continues to grow, this deeply concerns me.
I feel our digital PLN does not have the diversity of voice it needs to authentically comment on a wide range of issues the physical education profession faces.
While our digital community is wonderful in many ways, there are things we just don’t talk about. We don’t talk about things that might make many of us uncomfortable. We don’t talk about race, gender, disability, poverty, language and other issues of social justice that are part of many of the learning communities we teach in. For the last 6 years, I have taught at a middle school whose demographics are 70% Hispanic/Latino and 30% Caucasian. We have many students on free and reduced lunch and about 30% of our population are English language learners. Many schools in the United States have similarly diverse student populations and communities. As wonderful as our digital community is, 94% of the students and families who we serve do not identify as white, nor experience life or their journey to be physically literate through the same lens.
Starting today and continuing over the next several months, PHYSEDagogy will serve as a platform for a blog series called the Voices of #PhysEd. It is my hope that we can start to have an authentic dialogue about equity and social justice led by physical education professionals who have diverse cultural backgrounds and life experiences from which they draw upon.
This will not be easy. It will be uncomfortable and it might get messy. However, these are courageous conversations and difficult dialogues our profession needs to have. Self-examination will be required and we need to be willing to risk losing long-held beliefs about ourselves and others. With the growing influence our digital physical education community has on the future of our profession, we cannot afford to wait any longer to talk about it. The time is now for the Voices of #PhysEd.