Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lessons We Can Learn from the Olympics

By Amy Esselman

For years, I’ve watched the Olympics in sheer amazement. The talent, the skills, the strength—it’s incredible. But after reading an article posted in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, I started thinking about them in a new light, and a rather obvious one, at that.

All over the world, billions of viewers watch the events—almost 70% of the world’s population tuned in at least once in Beijing in 2008, according to the article. But the Olympics aren’t just about sports or athletics, and I’m not sure if they ever have been, at least solely. The Games highlight more than just talent. The Olympics set an example for everyone—young or old—about commitment, support, determination, and most of all, being part of a team. Imagine what an impact they could make on our students and schools?

The article points out that the educational value for events like the Olympics is unmatched.

Students see athletes who have trained, worked hard, and set goals. They see athletes working together for their team—regardless of whether or not they compete in individual or group events. Through and through, the Olympics showcase some of life’s most important lessons: how to work hard, how to be a good sport, how to play fair, and how to work well with others.

When translated to the classroom setting these lessons lose little, if any, relevance. These lessons apply to classroom behavior and life outside school walls.

For one, look at the idea of teams. There have always been group projects in class—it’s not a new concept. But approaching the technique from the view point of a team might spice things up. Think about group projects, and collaborative learning. The teacher becomes a coach, encouraging and training along the way. The kids in your class may not be Olympic athletes, but nothing’s stopping them from becoming “Olympic learners.”

We have a lot to learn from the Olympics—and not just how to score a perfect “10.” We can emphasize the core values of the games and use them in our classrooms. As learning tools or simply as part of character building, these lessons could add value to any student setting.

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