Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Making Competition More Human

Are there ways our children can enjoy their studies? This is a question that a retired high school principal attempts to answer in the View from the Ark column in the Catholic Times.

He went to morning Mass and in the small chapel where Mass is usually offered, nobody was there. He found this strange and went up to the church proper where he found it completely filled, and realized it was college entrance exam day. His prayer at the Mass was for all the students taking the exams, and especially for those who find studying difficult. It is the duty of the adults to find ways to make study enjoyable, and he brings to our attention the wisdom gained from the migrating geese.

Geese migrating can travel thousands of miles.They travel in a 'V' formation to take advantage of the reduction of air resistance, and the uplift and buoyancy of the air from the flapping of the wings of the bird in front. This gives them 75 percent more energy.The birds behind keep on honking which gives the bird out in front encouragement. When the lead Goose gets tired it is replaced with another bird and the lead bird goes back into the formation. What is more marvelous is when a  goose gets sick, is wounded or goes to the ground exhausted, two or three other birds will stay with the goose until recovered.

The lessons learned from the geese, the columnist says, can help in the class room: the collaborative working together to achieve a goal, sharing one's knowledge, encouraging one another, will bring joy and fraternity to the school classroom. The teacher will have the students helping each other. Those who have difficulty in math, English and literature will be helped by those who find it easier.The teacher would help those who will be tutoring to work with the poorer students in areas that the teacher feels needs attention. The process will help not only the poorer students but the ones giving the help. The ones mentoring will have more  confidence in the subject  matter and learn how to convey information.

Some of the teachers had difficulty with selecting from the students those to be the tutors for others, thinking that it would not be good at such an early age to be singled out to be a mentor. But they changed when they saw during physical education class some of the slower students showing their mentors how to throw a 'free throw'  on the  basketball court. Fraternity is not only one way.                                

Competition for college entrance will continue. Ways have to be found to decrease the stress that is built up, and to help the students realize that life is more than doing better than others in their exams.  The columnist feels that making the competition more human will help to dissipate some of the stress. The concern that is shown to others will hopefully carry over into adult life, which will not only be good for the individual but for society. He hopes those with a faith life will be leaders in this educational process.

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