Getting off on the right foot this new academic year – surely has to mean thinking carefully about ‘identity’ and ‘belonging’ and what those practically mean as part of any day to day work with children.
I have been reading Afua Hirsch’s book BRIT(ish) – a clear and passionate exploration of race and identity. There are a number of interesting themes that Hirsch raises in relation to race that can also be considered from the perspective of being a child. For example, that strength of desire to belong and to be part of something that allows one to best present who they are – is a challenge children are regularly facing.
We see children seeking that wish to belong in many day to day interactions at school. At times children might overplay their hand as they seek to demonstrate that perceived sense of belonging, or indeed not play a hand at all as they watch from the sidelines trying to work out exactly where they fit in.
However, and this is the crucial part, if we are to equip children truly make sense of that desire to belong, then doesn’t that have to start with a journey of discovery – one in which each children meaningfully comes to know themselves. Hirsch, as part of her own exploration suggests, ‘it is often said that you cannot do anything until you know who you are’.
If we are going to support children as effective lifelong learners, to not only manage the requirements of exams but also the complexities of day to day life, then don’t we have a responsibility to ensure that children know themselves?
To start that might mean simply mean being able to express ones feelings…
(to be continued