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From the archive - 08.01.1988

The head who feels guilty about games

Like many heads, I suffer pangs of guilt at my inability to reconcile the various pressures at work on primary school sport. Should we be teaching a graded series of ball skills: dribbling round cones, passing, shooting, hitting and catching? And, if so, ought I really to expect this from every teacher who takes games?

I cannot find it in my heart to grumble when I see Mr X enjoying an apparently uneducational game of rounders with his class. What is a games lesson for anyway? It certainly has little to do with getting fit - the very last way of getting a child fit is to set him or her once a week to an activity with lots of pauses for instruction.

Are there social aims and, if so, are they of a kind that cannot be achieved in other curriculum areas? Is it all connected with the laying of foundations for future national sports glory?

And what of my team fixtures? I see a colleague on the phone trying to fix up a series of inter-school matches before the evenings grow too dark. I see him later coming off the field in the freezing murky twilight and I wonder exactly what, in educational terms, is going on.

Mr X with his rounders match may cause the PE adviser to have the vapours. He may well, however, be teaching a whole set of values: that Jimmy, for instance, who never hits straight, is not to be jeered but helped.

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