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The Place of Sports and Extra-curricular Activities in Education

During a visiting day session at a boarding school, a student complained to his father, “We do sports and extra-curricular activities only once in a blue moon here. This school is very boring. All we do is read and read.”

 

It is easy to waive aside the complaint of the boy. It is very easy to miss the import of the situation that he described. Why? Parents send their children to school to study anyway. What is the harm in not having sporting and other extra-curricular activities on a regular basis? As a matter of fact, a lot of damage is being done.

 

For starters, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is a popular saying that applies here. Work and play are so intertwined that institutions that understand the connection make deliberate effort to integrate both in good proportions.

 

Also, it must be noted that majority of students go on in life to earn a living from personal skills and interests, not from their courses of formal study in school. In other words, the very things that are often classified under extra-curricular activities. People grow up to become dancers, footballers, basketballers, gardeners, and the like.

 

Education needs to change.

 

Would it not be much more productive to integrate the so-called extra-curricular activities into proper education syllabus, considering the vital part such activities often eventually play in the lives of students years later in the real world?

 

Yet, across so many schools around the country, things like computer science, music and the like are provided as add-ons and extras, when in reality they are as much core to everyday living as the main subjects of education.

 

Yes; education needs to change. However that happens, it is a bad idea to keep pupils and students away from regular, healthy doses of sports, games and other extra-curricular activities.

 

A FAMILY TRIP THIS HOLIDAY IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA

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It is easy to wave off holidays as times to give children a break from learning. However, this can be a grave mistake. While children should be given a break from formal learning and schooling, there are many fun ways of ensuring that they do learn even during long holidays.

A field trip is an excellent idea of a fun way to teach your children and /or wards in a hands-on way during holidays. By definition, a field trip is a trip made by students to learn about something

A field trip can be to places like nature spots e.g. water springs, water falls, rocks and nature trails, zoos, schools, museums, etc. It is fun, exciting, and yet educational. Here are some benefits of a field trip:

  • children have fun traveling and experiencing new places and things
  • children learn in a hands-on manner different from what obtains in a school environment
  • children get more exposure to the variety of peoples and customs that exist in the world
  • children get to know their country better

Holidays – especially to affluent Nigerians – often mean one or more trips to choice cities in Europe, North America, Middle East or the Asia – New York, Paris, London, Atlanta, Singapore, or Dubai. However, Nigeria is a large country, with lots of beautiful locations that all provide learning experiences. Those experiences include: historical, cultural, religious and scientific. Here are a few such places:

  • Olumo Rock, Abeokuta
  • Ikogosi Water Falls, Ikogosi-Ekiti
  • Arinta Water Fall, Iponle Ekiti
  • Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife
  • University Of Ibadan Zoological Garden (and the campus too)
  • Obudu Cattle Ranch, Calabar
  • Kainji Dam and Lake Kainji, Niger State
  • Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria

These are just a handful of places to visit. Each of them have a rich history that involves stories based on culture and/or science. Your children will see and hear things for themselves that will reinforce the theoretical classes they have had in school. A lot of things will be clearer to them. And they will have great fun while at it. You should give it a try these holidays.

Don’t forget to pick up one or more of First Veritas books with homegrown content that helps your children learn from the point of view of our local environment.

TALENT VERSUS ORGANIZATION

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The semi-finals match between Germany and Brazil at the FIFA World Cup 2014 was a huge upset and a record breaker. No-one could have predicted it would go so bad for either of the two teams playing. Neither was an underdog at any level of football. Yet, when the match was over and the dust had cleared, Germany had carried the day with a 7-1 win over Brazil. Scandalous is a good way to describe it.

Someone has described it as a victory of organisation over talent. That is a good summary, and there are lessons to be gleaned if we break it down.

  • The Brazilian team was choke full of talented players
  • The Brazilian team was full of passionate players (did you see how they sang their national anthem lustfully?)
  • But the Germans were the better organised team
  • The Germans were the more disciplined team

It has been proven that important as talent and passion may be, discipline and organisation play a much more important role in self development and hence in succeeding than mere talent and passion do. In other words, the more disciplined and organised person stands a better chance of learning, developing new skills, getting better at a task, passing exams and succeeding in life.

Sure, if we have a talented, passionate person who also embraces discipline and is well organised, we would have someone who would be unbeatable. Michael Jackson sits at the top of the popular music world because in addition to his natural talent and passion, he imbibed discipline early in life and never walked away from it till death.

  • Draw up a study time table.
  • Draw up a reading list
  • Schedule your tutorial classes
  • Schedule your eating, rest and sleep periods
  • Schedule practice periods

Talent or not, you can excel. Talent or not, you must embrace a life of discipline. You must get organised. By so doing, you exponentially increase your chances of success.

DO NOT STIFLE CURIOSITY

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“Curiosity killed the cat”, is an old saying. It is used to caution people who let curiosity get the better of them. Here in Nigeria, our society is not traditionally encouraging of people who get curious. People are encouraged to stay with the lakes and the rivers that they know and are used to. As for the things that are strange or appear to have no explanation, we label them “dark” or “evil”. The evil forest. The dark river. The general attitude towards these things is that of keeping off. Don’t be curios; keep off and stay safe.

Yet, curiosity is a great driving force in learning. Whether it s Isaac Newton, some other great inventor, or the everyday person who discovers some new phenomenon or brings new ideas about how to do things, we will find that curiosity is key. So, an apple fell off a tree. Why not pick it up, clean it, eat and go on with your life? But curiosity asked why. Why did this fall from the tree? Why do apples and indeed all fruit fall to the ground? And thus began a quest for knowledge that has resulted in a discovery that has become one of the foundations for physics.

The question, Why? It has siblings like How? When? Where? What? In multiple fields around the world, students, teachers and practitioners keep asking these questions. It is the way forward. Curiosity is key to learning and should be encouraged.

Why does this stream have two outlets, and how is it that one outlet brings out cool water and the other warm? Questions. What can be done with this phenomenon? More questions. While curiosity may have killed the cat in that old story, it is because of curiosity that human civilization makes progress. It is how we learn best. When we go hunting out information and solutions for ourselves because we need convincing and because we need answers, we are at our best in the learning curve.

IT IS SOCCER TIME !

Yes; it is soccer time. World Cup time, to be more specific. There is a lot of energy and buzz around this event for the next one month.New Picture (6)

While more conservative people are likely to look upon sports and games as a waste of time for young people, research and studies have shown that physical activity is essential to the total development of the child. In other words, it is essential that young people engage in sporting activity. Not only does it develop the body, it also fine tunes the mind.

The Swiss Academy for Development’s Sports and Development website states:

Sport and physical education is fundamental to the early development of children and youth and the skills learned during play, physical education and sport contribute to the holistic development of young people. Through participation in sport and physical education, young people learn about the importance of key values such as:

  • honesty,
  • teamwork,
  • fair play,
  • respect for themselves and others, and
  • adherence to rules.

Source: http://www.sportanddev.org/en/learnmore/sport_education_and_child_youth_development2/healthy_development_of_children_and_young_people_through_sport/

Is it really a waste of time to let students watch the World Cup, after all, they are not physically involved in the games. Will devoting so much time and energy to watching and analysing players and teams for the next one month contribute anything meaningful to education?

Apart from the fun and recreational benefits that watching a football tournament brings (and these are bona fide benefits themselves), the game of football is a very technical sport, involving analysis and planning. Fans are always constantly scrutinising and analysing the teams they follow and their favorite players. This activity is mentally stimulating and will produce returns that can be beneficial in other areas besides sports.

So, yes, it is soccer time! If your children are into soccer, let them enjoy the season. Just make sure that they do not necessarily neglect studying and other practical school work during the season.