Multiform is an educational program for inclusive physical education (PE). It consists of a new team sport game, transformable uniforms, and alternative sports fields. The games encourage school children to negotiate, resist and alter existing social power structures and body norms through embodied learning.
Multiform was developed by Gabriel Fontana in collaboration with philosopher Nathanja van den Heuvel and Rotterdam based primary and secondary schools, sport teachers and their pupils. Technical development by Berend Brus and outfits production: Wijkatelier op Zuid.
Many children experience physical education (PE) class as a very hostile environment. Dominant ideas regarding gender, ethnicity, physical ability and sexuality are reproduced in sport and physical education. Research shows that girls, children with disabilities, children with a bi-cultural background and LGBTQIA+ children are marginalised and often excluded in PE. This experience of exclusion has an impact that extends far beyond the boundaries of the sports class; often a determining factor in creating obstacles regarding a child’s well-being and social development.
During the game, each time a new colour appears on the transformable outfit, the player changes team. This challenges the way we usually oppose the other. Both the composition and sizes of the teams are changeable, for example, in one round you can be in a group of six and the next, a group of three. This way, students experience what it means to be a majority or a minority and are challenged to develop collaborative strategies. Multiform invites participants to understand the subjectivities of the ‘other’ and, in doing so, contributes to fighting processes of exclusion. See also video on https://gabrielfontana.com/en/projects/multiform
Some Rotterdam based primary and secondary schools are still currently using the Multiform educational tool kit in the context of their Physical Education Class.
Turning Towards Fluidiry: A tournament of the Unknow, a one month long queer sports tournament that reinvents togetherness. Currently happening at W139 Amsterdam.
Photography: Iris Rijskamp