PE = physical education
EFL= Education for Life
Here at Living Wisdom, we are using educational philosophies introduced by J. Donald Walters in his book, Education for Life. In one chapter, he outlines a new way of thinking about how we plan curriculum. Walters suggests that, rather than plan curriculum as discreet topics (i.e. Math, Reading, History, etc.), an EFL teacher look more holistically at what needs to be learned. This is, indeed, more closely related to how actual life works. If life looked like traditional school, we would go through our days saying to ourselves, “Okay, in order to solve this problem, I will think for 30 minutes about the history of this organization. Then, I will think for 45 minutes about the Math involved in the problem. Then, I will read for 30 minutes about some solutions.” In real life, we don’t go through our days thinking in categories. The title, Education for Life, is apt.
Walters suggests that curriculum be organized around more holistic principles:
- Our Earth-Our Universe
- Personal Development
- Self-Expression and Communication
- Understanding People
This year, I’m teaching PE to the Primary class. Throughout the day, I integrate physical activity into the lessons, but PE is a time that we can focus on learning gross and fine motor skills in order to play a sport or use playground equipment skillfully. I started to think about how I could teach PE using the EFL curriculum areas, in addition to being a time that students can train their bodies.
We are learning to use the hula-hoops and jump ropes in PE. PE is naturally an exercise of Personal Development, both physical and emotional development when working with competition. I had noticed that a few students were already proficient in hula-hooping, so before we went out, I asked if any students wanted to give tips to other students. The volunteers were paired up with other students and they worked with partners for the rest of the class.
As I walked around, I listened to how students were interacting. Sometimes, I stopped to give a little hint about how to teach another student. Mostly, though, the “experts” loved giving tips and the learners loved getting tips from their peers. The teachers were very encouraging, giving compliments and noticing when their students succeeded in one way or another. In this way, students were also learning Cooperation. As I gave them hints on how to teach, they were learning Communication, and of course, they could imagine themselves in the shoes of the learner, which gave them a deeper understanding of other people.
After PE, we debriefed and wrote down any tips for hula-hooping we had heard or shared. Aside from the obvious logistical tips, students included the tips:
- Don’t give up
- Keep practicing
We heard from a student who had just learned that week and went on to teach another student, simply because she didn’t give up. Now that is a lesson for life.