“Currently, sport in schools usually revolves around a fixed curriculum of track and field activities such as javelin, and contact sport such as basketball” (Bring Sport To The Young, Mr. Andy Tay).
An active lifestyle starts from young; quite naturally, schools bear heavy responsibilities in terms of proactively piquing students’ interests in sports and physical activities, as well as to render these commitments sustainable. The opinion piece – “Bring Sport To The Young” (July 30, 2011) by Mr. Andy Tay – makes the excellent observation that the status quo is structurally rigid, and pedantic in its execution. As aspirations for Singapore’s fledging sporting scene speedily takes shape, the corresponding stakeholders should – at the school-level – review existing Physical Education (PE) programmes, and introduce pedagogical improvements to increase variety, flexibility and enjoyment levels.
More often that not, the individual PE departments in schools would be more than happy to adhere to relatively well-established or prescribed syllabuses and curricula in the conduct of their lessons. The constant fixation upon key performance indicators (KPI) – graded by the statistics from the National Physical Fitness Award (NAPFA) and Trim And Fit (TAF) assessments – also drives educators to focus disproportionately upon athletic or monotonous running regimes. Equally important is the need to expose students to a greater variety of sports throughout the year – including contact sports, racket games, strength circuits et cetera – so that they can personally identify their interests, and ideally continue with them in the long-term independently.
It is impossible for any single sporting event to please every participating student; however, this should not be used as a convenient excuse for administrators to rotate PE lessons between that few sports. At the beginning of each year, classes can be put through a “foundation phase” to build up basic cardiovascular fitness; thereafter, modules can be offered to let students experience a little of everything, or for them to concentrate on a sport that they particularly enjoy. These arrangements might raise the demands for manpower and resources, but substantial economies of scale can be reaped if institutions within a common cluster can come together to coordinate respective sessions.
Even if schools and families – at the moment – do not recognise the feasibility of their students and children pursuing a sporting career, sports should not be myopically perceived as a mere conduit for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle per se. If managed intelligently by the educators, sports can be sources for recreation and enjoyment, and for the imparting of assorted life lessons; in teamwork, resilience and conscientiousness.
The time has come for PE and sports to assume more important positions in the grand scheme of education; because if they are taken more seriously, the holistic advantages would be especially beneficial and significant in time to come.