Friday, 20 December 2013

What do pupils learn from sport?


After a wonderful summer of sport with British sportsman and women achieving so much as well as the inspiring experience for the majority of us of being part of hosting the Olympics and Paralympics. The opening and closing ceremonies, the game makers, the spectators and individual personal triumphs of all Olympians, provided much to discuss about the legacy of the Olympics.  Physical Education has been part of the National Curriculum for many years with PE lessons currently timetabled for two hours per week.  Many schools also offer a wide range of after school sports clubs.  But why should sport be so prominent in the curriculum?

The benefits of participating in sports go far beyond the physical benefits of being fit, healthy and having good co-ordination.  Sport, whether competitive or non competitive, teaches us to adhere to the rules and develop an understanding of fair play. This in turn helps to develop a sense of honesty and a sense of right and wrong.   A child can learn to exercise judgement in expressing objections and in accepting any potential controversial calls.  Through sport we learn to accept losing with dignity and to learn from the      experience.  Sport encourages children to value and respect themselves, and others, as individuals.  Participation in any sport can also build determination and encourage children to set achievable goals.   Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics created its motto - "The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.  The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well."   Whether participating as an athlete or a spectator, sport encourages children to develop communication skills, explaining their point of view objectively and accepting that others views may differ. In addition, sport can break down break down cultural and physical barriers; this was evident in The Olympics and Paralympics.

Team sports particularly have the potential to develop a sense of belonging and a feeling of being valued.  Being a team member helps a child to learn to encourage their team mates and to be happy for the whole team's success, and to accept defeat/failure without blaming others.  Magic Johnson, perhaps the one of the most famous basketball players states; Ask not what your team mates can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your team mates."   Team sports can encourage children to develop leadership skills and to think as an individual within the context of making decisions that can benefit and support their team members.

There is evidence that suggests that children who are involved in sports do better academically at school.   Being a member of a team or sport club can develop time management and general organisation skills.  As part of a team or club your child will develop their listening skills and be encouraged to develop their observational skills.  For some children being part of a school team or club provides them with motivation to learn and in some cases their attendance improves. 

Children can also be inspired by sports.  Sports can provide positive mentors and role models.  A role model may be a famous athlete, their coach or PE teacher.  These people inspire us all not only with their achievements but also with their skills and determination to overcome any difficulties and to improve. We can be inspired by their dignity in winning and in losing.   Unfortunately, there are also negative role models in sports but children may learn from these too, for example, it is not acceptable to verbally abuse another player or to cheat.  The following observation by John Wooden perhaps explains what we can learn from our role models, and about ourselves from sports - "Sports do not build character.  They reveal it!"

PE encourages children to be fit and healthy, but more significantly through sport they can learn a sense of achievement and develop their self esteem.  Children when inspired by sports can gain a well rounded perspective of life.

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