SPORT at CMS
At the Caboolture Montessori School, movement and physical activities are highly valued and our curriculum provides for activities that focus specifically on developmental stages of movement in children.
Some activities are planned and delivered by class directors: yoga, morning limbering exercises, morning runs, skipping and bouncing with spelling and time tables and many more activities to provide learning through movement. We then provide formal physical education through our Physical Education (PE) director, Kelly Webster. Kelly holds a teaching degree as well as a Montessori qualification and identifies every term sporting activities that children enjoy as well as activities to develop sporting rules and skills.
Every term Kelly selects different sports: soccer, tennis, athletics, dance, archery, netball and more. The sport chosen will target various strengths and skills: upper body strength, hand-eye coordination, body balance, core strength and specific discipline skills. As a Montessori school we encourage our children to develop their own strategies and to aspire to achieve their personal best at all times. In sport this principle is fostered, even if we know that we are all competing in life. We compete with ourselves from birth and then we are taught to compete against others.
We do not believe that competition does not exist; what we do believe is that we do not want or need to foster competition against others by building an ‘us and them’ scenario. We focus on building teams through our own skilling and highlight the talents of the individual to support and enhance the group. We talk about collaboration and mentoring each other. We encourage growth through combining strengths.
Does this work in sporting activities? Do our children still thrive to win? Do students apply their skills with the same motivation?
The answer to each of these questions is yes. When we play a game of soccer, each team plays to win. Each child becomes excited and focussed on the game and their role in the game. They are disappointed if they are not victorious.
The difference between a Montessori school and a traditional school is the attitude of the adults and the expectations we place on each student participating in the game. The adults celebrate the winners and debrief on the reasons for positive outcomes. This conversation is had with both sides of the team. The team that did not achieve a win listens to the analysis of the game and then are encouraged to analyse own strategies and see what can be learned by the event. The next game will see players from each team mixed, so again there is not an ‘us and them’ but the team for today.
No student is compared with another: strategies are compared. The aim of this conversation is to build each individual in the game and to recognise the abilities that we all need to grow and improve. This attitude does pervade all our games and we recommend that parents work with us in fostering the love of participation and integration as well as celebrating achievements, both individual and team.
Looking at theories espoused by futurists, we hear that in the future, unless individuals have strong collaboration skills, transfer of knowledge will not be complete; it does require for people to work together to access larger quantities of data and to source the relevant data. We will not be impressed by an individual that promotes their own ideas, unless we have had comparative and substantiated information. (Hicks and Katz, 1996; Wuchty et al., 2007). Leadership is changing. Our world is shrinking and information must address global societal changes and needs, therefore collaborative work will identify different perspectives and feelings (Gibbons et al., 1994; Ziman, 2000).
The word competition is not a dirty word, but needs to be reframed. We do not want our children to compete for grades or prizes, but emphasize working with creativity and innovative thinking and building with all brains in the group. In conclusion, to our sporting parents, I would like to say that your child will never have their competitive streak dimmed in a Montessori environment, as this is our human nature; what we want to encourage in a primary school is the value of commitment and personal achievement, respect for others (better and less able than us) and collaborative associations.
“Do we believe and constantly insist that cooperation among the peoples of the world is necessary in order to bring about peace? If so, what is needed first of all is collaboration with children…. All our efforts will come to nothing until we remedy the great injustice done the child, and remedy it by cooperating with him. If we are among the men of good will who yearn for peace, we must lay the foundation for peace ourselves, by working for the social world of the child.”
(International Montessori Congress, 1937)