Oh the sounds of summer…The crack of the bat (or ping if you’re talking about Little League). The pop of a ball being caught in the pocket of a leathery glove. The swishing sound of feet gliding across orange clay. These are sounds I grew up with for 15 years. My true formative years. Memories that to this day I can remember very vividly.
How many of you remember going out and “playing catch” with your dad? Or kicking around that soccer ball with your brother or sister in the backyard? Better yet, how many of you played whiffle ball or cup ball with your friends at a park, on the street or even in your swimming pool?
I for one can say yes to all of the above. I so cherished the time I was able to spend time with dad to play catch in the side yard. He would get all gussied up in the catchers gear that we had as part of my Little League team. As I got older, the more equipment he seemed to put on. By the time I was in the Senior Division (14-15 year old) in Little League he was in full catching equipment and double batting gloves under the catcher’s mitt. I’ve even had the true cool experience to play softball as a 19 year old with my dad and grandfather on the same team for two seasons. Nothing cooler than having 3 generations of Turners on the same field at the same time. We get to do that occasionally for golf, but the frequency is alot less now that my Grandfather’s Parkinson’s is really prohibitive these days.
The point is, I’ve been blessed with the fortunes of living a very active youth (we won’t mention how its gone downhill from graduation now will we?) The question is, where did this love of playing come from? Where was the spark? Sure, my parents encouraged me to play Little League. Heck, my dad was my coach from my 6 y/o Tee Ball first team, all the way to my 15 y/o Senior Division Team.
No matter what activity it is, the ability to succeed at these activities requires 2 things. Repetition and Practice. The two go together. How often do you see a big league ball player hitting in the batting cages? Pretty often I’m sure. I know when I was playing ball, I practice everyday. The routine is still etched in my head. We did infield/outfield fungo drills, followed by baserunning drills, then hitting practice (cage or game type situations or live bp) finished up with cardio/strength training exercises.
Again, I had the luxury of being able to practice extra to hone my skills. But where were the primary skills taught? Where are these primary skills taught today? What individuals are in charge of teaching our young children these life skills of being active and learning through sport and play? Those physical educators that you see coming and going with the nice sun tan, floppy hat and the sun glasses hanging either from their neck or sitting on their cap. I have a very soft spot in my heart for PE teachers. Little known secret, my initial teaching certificate is in physical education from the University of Central Florida. I’ve had to deal with for years being told that I took the ‘easy’ route to becoming an educator. “PFFFT”, I tell them. I won’t get into the ins and outs of what a physical education major program looks like at the college level. You can do your own research on that.
I’ve shared at length my desire to see more gaming in the educational setting. The same can be said for the physical education curriculum for an elementary age child. We lived by a motto/creed at UCF. “Monkey See Monkey Do, Children Learn the Best as they are Doing.” The goal of any PE curriculum is to have the children actively engaged at ALL times. Movement, movement, movement. Active, active, active. Two things occur when this sort of engagement is not occurring: there is no retention of the activity that is being learned and there is a HIGH probability that the children will begin to misbehave.
Does this result sound vaguely familiar? All to often I’ve walked into classrooms where students are proverbially ‘bouncing off the wall’. It is not in my place to tell these teachers how to do their job. However, it is well within my role as a technology integration specialist to offer suggestions for engaging students. Why then do we not see as many brick and mortar classrooms being run similarly to those out on the PE fields?
My mind is swirling now that it is 2 am in the morning. I’ve been churning this topic in my head since I returned back from New York last week. I think it’s high time for me to hit the sack and return to this on Saturday when I return home.
Seeking the Wisdom of the Ages…
photo courtesy of: jimmywayne22, “Howard J. Lamade Stadium.” Flickr. 27 July 2008. 1 Aug 2008 <http://www.flickr.com/photos/61278305@N00/2706681401/>.