Yes, I know, this title is a disconcerting title . What is the relation between a lion and a monkey in a blog about motor competence? I’ll try to explain it.
During this weekend I had the occasion to maintain a conversation with the mother of a boy whose experience in a basketball school hasn’t been very satisfactory. This fact woke up in my mind a whole series of thoughts that had been part of my talks in some courses and conferences, and even in some articles.
In other posts of this same blog we have seen the difficulties of some schoolboys and girls that want to be part of a sport team and want to enjoy in it, but they finally give up with an experience, in many cases, traumatic.
There is something that the adults who take the decision about who should or not be in charge of a group of kids that they don’t understand. Not everybody could do it!
There is a tendency in school sport to benefit those whose only baggage and education is being a player of that sport. With this experience, they can teach and educate our children in sport settings.
It’s as if the mere fact of being a good reader of western novels gives you the enough conditions to teach how to read to children. No. And that’s what is happening in our school sport.
The case that I’m talking about is not the only one and this happens more than we would wish. It’s the experience of kids that are pushed, even harassed, by peers because their competence is different than the rest of the group and, therefore, as its performance is not good, they must be mistreated in the court, in the locker room and in the school.
The adjectives they use are everything except kind. The pressure is higher when it’s moved to the web, which add a level of cruelty that many of us are unaware of it. In this circumstances is when the helplessness emerge, and when the kid want to give up the sport as fast as it’s possible, leaving behind all the humiliation he/she has received in an activity that, in theory, is good for everyone.
We have to assume that when we offer sports in schools, not only we offer a work space for sport abilities, but also we offer an environment of psychosocial relationships where the teacher relates whit the pupils; they with the teacher; and the pupils among them. We promote the idea that sport is an strong source of goodness and values but in some cases the reality is different and we must be very attentive.
And here is when the lion mind comes into play. The lion is always attentive to the movement of the herd and everything that it’s around it. “He” concentrates to intervene when it’s necessary. A school coach must develop this mind. He/She must practice an attentive observation of what happens in his/her group, inside and outside the court, the swimming pool, the tatami. She/he must be willing to stop the undesirable behaviours, and help the helpless for not being victim of those who pressure him/her.
Remember, children are the first, and after the sport. This sentence that has been articulated so easily, how difficult to carry it out is! Especially if those who press are the most skilled of the group, who score more goals or more baskets. Looking to other side is opening the door to the continue abuse.
Manifest a Monkey mind, a mind that jumps from branch to branch, without concentrate on what is happening in front of his eyes…it’s a very bad “pedagogical” strategy. What response can be given when parents come to claim about an abuse in their children? .Sport experiences are a right to all children beyond competence level or performance possibilities. The coach’s mania of pay attention to the most competent and put aside the less able, and be a prophet about what their pupils may become or not in sport, is a big mistake. Nobody should be prophet apprentice when we talk about schoolchildren.
History shows us of many cases where these prophecies were erroneous in the sport or academic field. Matt Groening´s, Robert Sternberg or the Emilio Sánchez Vicario are good examples of this.
It’s time to stop launching negative expectations to those pupils that, apparently, don’t move, behave o act as books say they should do.
It’s time to think in what they can become, and teach them properly and promote their wish to learn beyond their level of expertise at that time.
It’s time to be intolerant to those who are intolerant with their mates. Sport can’t be a source of humiliation, instead of that, sport has to be a source of enjoyment, collaboration, compassion and mutual support and, if this is not so, it’s better to dedicate time to other things and disappear.
In our hands is to avoid that a student can say “I hate sport”, because we had a monkey mind.
In our hands is to promote between children the necessity of helping and mutual support.
We have to develop a Lion Mind, a mind concentrate on what the sport labour is: developing good sportsmen and best people and citizens.
We have to enjoy how the less able improve and reach a higher competence level.
We have to enjoy with them and their achievements and share this fact with others.
We have to offer to children the opportunity to see that they have been able to overcome their limitations. Let them not to be perennial observers and perennial in benches. We have to put the success and failure in perspective. Sport must be an enriching and funny experience.
We have to look for opportunities to teach empathy and compassion among children; we have to enrich their emotional intelligence.
We have to take the opportunity that sport gives us to go beyond, and form good citizens, conscious that not everybody is equal and the necessity of accepting yourself and helping each other.
¿Difficult? I’m sure that it is, but this is the difference between being a coach that is in his/her class or a coach that only pass across it.