Sport as an educational method
It is commonly believed that physical activity is one of the more important aspects influencing our health. Because of that, physical education classes are part of the core curriculum of every school. Additionally, more and more schools provide options for extracurricular sports activities. Such solutions bring huge benefits for a child’s physical, as well as mental, development. In the following article, I’m going to focus on the educational role that sport plays in a child’s upbringing. In other words, I’m going to check how sport can shape a child’s character and social attitudes.
Upbringing is understood as the conscious shaping of one’s personality in order to achieve a specific development on different levels (mental, moral, physical), and preparing one for living in a society. The upbringing process is influenced by multiple factors, such as environment, family home, surroundings, school, mass media, additional organizations a person is a part of, and other forms of social life. In general, sport can shape values such as honorable rivalry, respecting the rules of fair play, being a good winner and a good loser. But what benefits does sport bring for the personality of a growing-up child? As a field of physical culture that is all about competition, sport can generate specific personality traits. First of all, it shapes persistence – a child learns that she cannot achieve the best results without regular practice, commitment and a certain dose of determination. Therefore, it creates a regular lifestyle that leads to work discipline that can definitely be useful when it comes to studying. A child learns to get used to certain habits that are meant to bring specific results. It also generates a greater sense of responsibility. Such a skill can be used to study regularly, or rather – to become motivated to study regularly. It can be used later on, in professional life, as well. Additionally, children who practice regularly tend to be more flexible and effective at school and in the house. Other important traits that sport influences are courage and restraint. By training and proving himself in competitions, a child experiences rivalry. Such situations require facing our own fear and stress. Sport teaches children how to control their emotions and find the right attitude. Of course, it is also due to the coach, who – apart from suggesting proper physical training – uses his psychological knowledge to motivate his players with the right words. Such experiences greatly improve a young person’s ability to handle stressful situations. Additionally, winning and losing will become useful in other aspects of life. Success edifies and increases motivation, but failure is not necessarily “the end of the world” – it’s supposed to be a form of encouragement to try even harder and improve one’s skills even further. Experiencing failure is an important test for a child. It needs to learn to deal with the emotions it feels, redefine its tasks, work on its weaknesses, and maybe even come up with a form of a positive internal dialogue. Sports activities are the source of ideals and values we present to a young person. Nowadays, we can observe a certain crisis of values, so sport might just be a valuable tip for those who have just begun searching for their own path. A young player will be more interested in training than spending his free time at a mall, which seems more and more popular these days. Sport can also be a good distraction from the lurking threats, such as drugs, alcohol, etc. Moreover, having common passions and spending time together really gets children closer to each other. Going on trips, having common subjects to talk about, sharing common experiences – all of that can lead to true friendships that can last for years, if not a lifetime.
For children, the social aspect of sport is also quite wide. Being part of a team can be a very socializing experience. Therefore, kids learn that because they belong in a certain group, they gain specific rights, but are also limited by rules and responsibilities. During sports activities, they interact with other people. Of course, the degree of such interaction depends on the type of sport – whether it’s played individually or in a team. Nonetheless, children train in groups, and therefore they often practice in pairs. Team sports will be focused more on cooperation, while those played individually– not so much, but staying friendly and showing respect are values that are strengthened in both cases. So the sense of belonging introduces a child to a certain system of human relations that is the basis of society. Each sports competition is held in the fair play spirit, which is essential because right from the start it shapes a moral attitude that is a key element to morality in the broader sense of the word. Morality is a form of social awareness that concerns general human behaviors. Young players see how valuable ethical attitudes are. They also know the gravity of fraud that brings not only formal consequences, such as disqualification, but also certain social consequences, e.g. condemnation among sports groups – therefore, it can be quite a mental burden. By being aware of such consequences, children learn the rules that are dominant in certain larger social groups and they can predict the implications of their actions. Sports such as volleyball, football or hockey are characterized by the fact that you need to work as a group to succeed. Kids learn to assume proper roles, lead, strive for a common goal, adjust their own interests and ambitions to the needs of the team. These are important skills that will become essential in other aspects of life.
Judging how much sport can influence one’s personality is quite difficult; almost impossible to estimate. Each child grows up in different environments characterized by different norms, values and role models. Additionally, there are a lot of other factors that influence personality. Nevertheless, sport shapes – in a certain way – a child’s temper and nature. Arkadiusz Gołaś’s words might be a good wrap-up of this article: “Each kind of sports is a source of countless values. Practicing one’s attention, shaping the will, persistence, responsibility, enduring hardship and difficulties, the spirit of self-sacrifice and solidarity, sense of duty – those are all virtues of a sportsman”.
Gosia/translated by Konrad
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