By Atul Temurnikar
UNESCO’s International Charter of Physical Education and Sports states, “Every human being has a fundamental right of access to physical education and sport, which are essential for the full development of his personality. The freedom to develop physical, intellectual and moral powers through physical education and sport must be guaranteed both within the educational system and in other aspects of social life.” The charter was first out in 1978 and later amended in 2015 in tune with modern day requirements and changing lifestyles.
Though the global education system has successfully evolved to integrate themselves with these changes, there is still a thought process that believes that great leaders are born on the first bench in a classroom.
While educators and parents alike believe that a good academic system builds a strong foundation for a child’s future intellect, there is often a significant contribution of sports that’s lost in the process. There is no doubt about the fact that academics is important for a child to develop hard skills like communication, math and comprehension but there is a whole wide world of sports that moulds a child’s personality and benefits his overall intellect.
There are various research reports that suggest that children who juggle between sports and academics equally are better focused, confident, driven, disciplined and more sorted when it comes to strategising and problem solving. Introducing sports as a part of early childhood development not only makes children more active, but instills a feeling of competitiveness and accomplishment that is an integral quality to be a leader in today’s dynamic environment.
Globally, schools have accepted the growing need of maintaining a healthy balance between sports and academics and its importance in the holistic development of a student. In countries like the US and UK, there are scholarships for higher education provided to students on the basis of their capabilities to play a sport which gives them an opportunity to pursue their degree while fulfilling their sports aspirations. This trend is slowly coming to India, with an increasing number of schools designing their curriculum around providing opportunities for sports and academic development of a student.
The use of data analytics in sports is also one of the examples of this revolutionary change that has taken place in the current education scenario. This level of involvement by an educational institution in helping a student excel in something apart from academics is what every parent looks for when they are at a crossroads of choosing the best school for their child.
Without undermining the importance of academics and learning, sports and a need for compulsory participation in sports provides the following advantages to a student’s overall development:
Juggling intellectual and physical education simultaneously helps a student become organised and systematic in his approach to daily chores. To balance studies and sports together, a person needs to plan their day strategically. This makes a student disciplined in his habits.
We live in a world which is extremely competitive. Victory and defeat are two sides of the same coin which exist interchangeable and appear at a drop of a hat. No victory lasts a lifetime, nor does any failure. Sadly, academics sometimes fail to teach a child this principle. Participating in sports, and maintaining a compulsory sports curriculum, teaches students not just teamwork and dogged perseverance, but also gives them the strength to push ahead for success as well as to deal with failure. It teaches them the priceless quality of accepting defeat; a trait which in today’s world is pertinent to have.
Building concentration and discipline
Children have a very short attention span, which often gets lost when they are faced with huge piles of cumbersome literature. Being athletic develops concentration and discipline in young learners. A study conducted among Nebraska students from grade four to grade eight determined that the more aerobically fit a child was, the better his grades were. Sport builds in them the habit of focusing their attention to a specific thing for long amounts of time and making them diligent and meticulous in their approach.
To conclude, not all students are same. Some are good in academics and others are good with sports. However, as parents, it is the responsibility of an individual to not put them in a box and let them recognize their interests and ability as and when the time comes. Hence, an educational curriculum where there is a balanced approach and attention towards sports and academics is essential to build in a child the leader for tomorrow. A leader, this world needs.
(The writer is Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, Global Schools Foundation.)
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