Sport and education
On track to academic success.
Sport isn’t just good for our children’s health, it is crucial to their development and education.
Sport is ever-present in most of our lives and no one would dispute that it plays an essential role in our wellbeing. As such, it is crucial to make room in the school curriculum for sport. Beyond the obvious benefits of physical exercise, sport is a multi-faceted asset: it’s a unifier, an equalizer, a standard for discipline and a boost to energy and self esteem. Sport isn’t just good for our children’s health, it is crucial to their development and education.
International events, such as the recent Rugby World Cup or the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio, highlight the role of sport in our global society. Opening up to others, accepting differences and valuing talent are qualities that have their place in all schools that aim to prepare students for – and reflect – the world that awaits them. The academic classroom can lead to feelings of under achievement, with punishing grades and the physical constraint of sitting quietly. Sport not only breaks away from this tedium but enables students to shine in different ways. As a discipline, it’s not unlike Maths and spelling - in that some people will claim they are simply no good at it. However, with the right programme and teachers, and a careful balance of playground and after school activities, every child can find a sport which corresponds to their interests, strengths and/or physical aptitude. Here is the leveler: we can all have a go and enjoy the endorphins that boost our mood.
THE SCIENTIFIC ARGUMENT
The competitive world increases the stress and expectation of top grades. Parents may put pressure on their children to pursue traditional academic subjects leading to prestigious universities and to dismiss time spent on non-academic activities. However, for those intent on science, the good news is that sport (and physical exercise in general) is now proven to aid memory and learning through neurogenesis, or the creation of new neurons. What better argument to continue and encourage the compulsory presence of sport in school from early years all the way to diploma level.
ACHIEVING IS A STATE OF MIND
Delayed gratification is another aspect of sport that complements academic success. It teaches students that tenacity and resilience will get the best results. Nobody can put on ice skates for the first time and perform a triple axel but regular training can get you there. The patience and discipline required are the same needed to master higher concepts of Physics or the analytical structure of a History essay, and it is generally accepted that Music students are able to develop levels of concentration that are transferable to their academic studies – and the same can be said about sports. It is a question of transferring skills, such as concentration, commitment and persistence, from one environment to another. If traditional academic subjects fail to light the spark for learning, others can do the trick; so the presence of so-called non-academic subjects like sport, music, art and drama are valid at all levels of education.
Learning happens at its best when the student is fully engaged, body and mind, quite literally: left and right brains solicited, all learning styles addressed, all senses stimulated. The ritual of a well-honed sports routine, like choosing the right clothing and equipment, warming up and sticking to a strict and timed training, can only help students thrive in education.
LEARN MORE WITH SABINE HUTCHESON
Sabine Hutcheson is a British-trained teacher, with over a decade’s teaching experience in Switzerland, UK and neighbouring France. She has taught a variety of subjects to children from five to 18 years old, as well as to adults.