Learning for a lifetime
|FTLComm - Tisdale - Tuesday, March 2, 2004|
|There is a problem for us all and that is to grasp the
importance of what life is really all about. The public school system was established
with a whole set of goals depending upon the era, to better prepare the coming generation
to cope in the world as citizens, workers, socially responsible individuals and .
. . . well that list is a long one and each period of history sees the priorities
through the eyes of the past.
When Graham Taylor was a principal in Wolseley years ago, long before he became a cabinet minister, also a long time ago, his school undertook a study of the effects of physical education on the operation of the school and discovered that if they put thirty minutes of time in each day for every student of physical education the students had better achievement in all subjects and the bonus was that the fitness level of the students increased dramatically. As a result the province established a base line for every student to get that much time each day for physical development. For many years the plan worked out well, but then there were cutback and other priorities came along and keeping every student fit is simply no longer the priority.
The main question of course is priority for whom? Indeed educators all saw the amazing benefits of active healthy students and have struggled to keep the level of activity as high as possible but there are encumbrances
|There is a certain sequence to life that no matter what
some people figure is important, the sequence and the learning opportunity is prescribed
by the very nature of human development. Wanting their children to learn to read
at the earliest possible age is a good example of good intentions and bad results.
(abstract reasoning) is available somewhere between age ten and eleven depending
on the child and be he a boy or a girl, if you miss that window of learning opportunity
there is no way of regaining what has been missed.
So it is that skills, often very simple ones, are acquired at a specific time in a person's development and once acquired are a permanent part of that person. Appreciation of physical activity and the benefits of a fit body is one such element in a person's development and what you see in these pictures is precisely what these people should be doing. Each individual in this class is having a lifetime affecting experience that they will be able to use for every minute there after.
Cross country skiing is just one of the many elements of skill and pattern adjustment that opens a door to a world of fitness and teaches a person about coping and transferring already acquired skills, then being able to combine these skills with others, for yet other things in life.
As you look at these pictures I suspect many would wonder that perhaps these people would be better off pouring through algebra or quantum physics? No, the answer to such a question is not now. This is the window of opportunity, the temperature was perfect, snow conditions outstanding, the trail and terrain only a block from the school and a skilled instructor on hand to make the process happen.
Learning of all kinds is enormously satisfying. You are faced with a formidable problem you gain gradual access to the means for the solution, you make a reasoning break through and then suddenly you wonder at the pure simplicity of your new found success.
Physical activities like cross country skiing really provide every student with the process and possibility of achievement. Learn to flip that toe up, snap through a step turn, drill into a snow plow stop, get into a glide all simple skills. Just like learning to walk, skate or ride a bicycle, it is something everyone can get the hang of and no one fails. Heart, lungs and mind all get together on this one and after a few times out, all three work better.
One of the most important factors to come to terms with is the whole issue of cost. A set of skis is a fair chunk of money. The time out of English, algebra and science is precious. But ultimately it is crystal clear that we as a society can not afford not to support and encourage programmes like this.
Six months of every year the ground is covered with snow and we all have to come to the realisation that it and the associated weather are not our enemy and we can enjoy life without gasoline and ball bearings.
Once an individual begins to feel the affects of healthy physical activity they are hooked and will not tolerate the way they feel without that activity.
There is no doubt that the tools of this society and the one coming, will continue to involve even more sitting and concentrated mental activity. We are, after all, an advancing technological society, but we are also faced with absolutely overwhelming evidence that our society is becoming increasingly obese and for the first time ever, scientists are predicting that the life expectancy of those children now in school will be shorter thanthat of their parents.
Team sports are valid forms of recreation but as a society our participation in most sports is as a spectator rather than as a participant. But activities like cross country skiing can be done alone, in a group or with a partner and combined with hiking and walking in the summer, offer low cost high benefit results for every individual.