My best lesson - Sporting chance arises from technological ashes

27th September 2013 at 01:00

One of my best lessons evolved out of a situation that I am sure many of us have encountered in the classroom: the failure of technology to act the way it is supposed to.

We had bought a faculty set of tablet computers and had developed a number of interesting and fun ways to use them in the classroom. In this particular lesson, my students and I were looking at physiological responses to exercise. We were using an app that measured micro-changes in the colour of a person's face to determine their heart rate.

But the monitor malfunctioned, leaving the frustrated students unable to gain an accurate reading, or anything close. I could see the lesson slipping through my fingers right in front of me.

Just as I was about to give up, I observed an exchange between two students that saved the lesson. Student A proclaimed technology to be a waste of time and money because it rarely worked as intended. Student B countered that without technology we wouldn't have all the conveniences that we take for granted today.

I stopped the class and asked for some honest opinions about the use of technology in everyday life, receiving mixed responses. Before we knew it we were in the middle of a structured debate on the proposition that technology should have no place in determining the outcome of a sporting event.

This was completely unrelated to the scheme of work, but I was proud of my students for being able to take what seemed to be a failed lesson and turn it into a mature discussion on a proposition that was relevant and applicable to society today.

Just because a lesson does not go according to plan does not mean that it cannot be a successful one.

Carl Condliffe is a PE teacher at Wellington High School in New Zealand. @NZPEteacher.

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