Thursday, February 27, 2014

No Dodgeball in P.E. Okay. No Square Dancing?

 Students are not allowed to play dodgeball in physical education anymore. I understand that; I don’t agree with it, but I get it. Some will take the notion of throwing a ball at another person too far and people will get hurt, it will turn the class into an opportunity to fulfill someone’s vendetta against another, and the resulting adrenaline rush will take it even higher. Put aside the ridiculous idea of punishing everyone for the misguided actions of some, of making rules so that we don’t need to monitor what’s going on. Put discipline and guidance on autopilot by simply outlawing an activity which might need constant attention and clear expectations.

But square dancing?

Okay, maybe this wasn’t the result of someone swinging their partner into a wall, or dosey-do-ing a little too vigorously, but why? Square dancing is a great opportunity for learning. Focus student energy on moving in time with the caller’s mark.  The combination of two types of engagement (kinetic and audial) serves to greater cement ideas in our brain. Exercising the body and processing verbal instruction is a terrific lesson.

And if student engagement with the music is an issue, the rhythm and cadence of square dancing is not far removed from current musical styles. I think there is even a song on top 40 radio with a chorus that says: “Swing your partner, round and round.”

And there is no winner or loser. This is truly an activity where everyone deserves an award for participation: something I do not always agree with. In competition, the first competitor should be ourselves. But there is nothing wrong with being a winner. as long as you do not call someone else a loser.

You should feel happy because you accomplished something which took effort and determination. You should NOT try to compound that feeling by taunting those who didn’t quite make it.

Not everyone is going to succeed at everything they do, and we shouldn’t expect that: losing is learning. In loss, we have the opportunity to reflect on what went wrong, change it the next time, or do something else entirely. Take chess, for example. We learn more from losing than we do in victory.

And, to end on a cinematic note, one of my favorite movies made a great point about superiority complexes.

We all have different talents and abilities. Not everyone can be super at everything. “Because when everyone is super: no one will be.”

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