Tenacre's Physical Education program teaches more than physical education (11/30/17)
Allan Wyatt, Consulting Psychologist for Tenacre
A week or so ago, I had a chance to talk with our physical education team - Ms. Delaney, Mr. Owens and Mr. Jette - about their philosophy and practice of teaching their subject. I was first to learn that they spend a great deal of time with the students, more perhaps that all but the homeroom teachers. This allows them to know the kids really well, which, in turn, affords them the opportunity to weave together their two-part mission: (1) to instill a love of and confidence in physical movement and skill; and (2) to inspire kids to reach for the ideal of being a “good sport.” These twin goals are indivisible in the programs Patti, DaJaun and Stephen described to me. Non-sport specific challenge games, for instance, are introduced early. Designed to put pairs or small groups in the position to figure out how to work and move together to accomplish a physical task, with ever-changing conditions, these games become the building blocks in the younger grades for inculcating cooperation and frustration tolerance, so necessary when later engaging in team sports. All of our students are required to participate in team sports, as much for the social-emotional learning as for the physical activity itself. The code of conduct to guide such participation has been put together jointly by students and teachers. Its emphases could serve as a guide to all of us, with such principles as humility in victory, graciousness in defeat, acceptance of the inevitability of bad breaks, bad calls, and mistakes by teammates, and an unwavering support for the good name of our school. Whereas, for example, some of our competitor schools play with a “kill or be killed” mentality, Tenacre will not do things like run up a score on a team they are beating. These kinds of values do not take away from our students acquiring skills that will support a lifetime of athletic fun. Rather, they frame the athletics so that fun and integrity are at the heart of the matter, not a must-win mentality. Patti, DaJaun and Stephen take obvious pride in the fact that, as they assess it, 90% percent of our students by fifth or sixth grade have made the “good sport” ideal their own (and yes, they do get frustrated that the number is not 100%!), even as our students also come to openly enjoy exercising their athletic talents. Mission accomplished!