Monday, March 10, 2008

Games vs Organized Sports

Games Teach Getting Along

At Choice Time today, some of the boys wanted to play tether ball. They knew the basic rules which are pretty simple, really:

• stay on your side of the circle, and

• try to hit the ball so it winds all the way up.

When it does, you win.

If you're redheaded Sammy, there, you want it to wind up clockwise; if you're Sergio you want it to wind up counterclockwise. (He was wearing his helmet because he'd just finished riding his bike.) Simple.

The real value in a game like this is for them to figure out the rules. What makes a hit legal? Can you catch the ball? Can you use the rope to fling the ball (ropsies)? What happens when you step over the painted line? If you get out of line, do you get your place back?

The temptation as a teacher is to stand there and make all the rules. Briefly I succumbed to this childhood-cheating demon. I came over and made a ruling on "ropsies." Illegal.

But all the value of the game goes away when I do that. It's so much better to LET THEM figure out the rules for themselves. Doing so exercises THEIR emotional and social intelligences.

I felt proud of myself for remembering to stand back and let them play. I took a picture and let them have the fun—and work—of making tetherball work for them.

When Choice time was over, Sammy came inside with the reddest cheeks in Sonoma County.

Sammy and Sergio play. Henry's wheels are turning.

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