When I was in my first year of teaching a decade ago I was idealistic and academic. I taught English to grade eleven and twelve students and was content, maybe arrogant, enough to believe that the only way students would become better humans was through academics. I offered time after class and after-school sessions for exam prep. I inspired students through my passion and enthusiasm for literature, and even let them read books with swear words (because it was relevant and would help them relate) in them. Students loved me and some even began to learn how to read and write better. Some wanted to know what I thought they should read beyond what they were assigned.
One major stumbling block, as I saw it, were organized sports. Rugby, basketball, volleyball, soccer, football, they were all culprits in taking students’ minds off of what was really important – learning. There was nothing to be learned by throwing a ball around or hitting others at full strength and speed. Schools should be places of learning, and the community could work out the sports. And if they couldn’t do it, well, it wasn’t my problem to work out.
Now that I have children, a daughter who’s nine and a son who’s six, and I teach student leadership I realize how short-sighted and naive and ignorant I was ten years ago. Kids love to play. And, shockingly enough, kids learn so much while playing. My kids have learned confidence, patience and teamwork. They’re learning that their dad is a bit slow and out of shape and that they have to play nice with me or I get hurt. I’ve learned that life has to be experienced not just read about. I’ve learned that if our fields and gyms are empty, so our kids will be. And I learned all of this from experience in the field (sorry about the pun).
Pentax K20D; Pentax DA 18-55mm AL II; f9; ISO 100; 1/640 sec.