Our school is having a 'sports day' on Saturday, which naturally means that we just received an all-staff email informing us that a large number of children will be missing class on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, in order to participate in so-called pre-determined events, such as javelin, which is supposedly a huge sport here. On the annual sports day, I mean. And by 'the annual sports day', I really mean during school on the Tuesday preceding the annual sports day.
The annual sports day is the biggest and best track meet of the year here, which means merely that it is bigger and better than the other track meet of the year, inter-house sports day. We take the kids down to the field, hand them a giant metal ball that they do not know how to safely throw and say, "Throw this," and the shot put event has begun. We line up the hurdles and explain, "You jump over them, climb over them, kick them over, anything to get to the end. It is best if you can clear them by about a foot so they don't bite you. The harder you fall, the tougher your friends will think you are." Then we give them medals and the season is over as quickly as it began.
I am currently battling the temptation to send an all-staff email of my own:
Please excuse my math students from 'extra-curricular' activities which take place during my math classes for the week of October 15. They have all qualified for participation in our current units on two-variable data, applications of differentiation, and number concepts. This is a unique learning experience, and it will not interrupt their regularly scheduled class. They will not be needing a bus ride or shiny jackets.
Some questions about "Sports" "Day" that I would ask if I thought there was an answer:
If so many of the events are "pre-determined", why do students have to participate in them?
If they have not thrown a javelin since the last "Sports" "Day", why is it worthwhile for us to bus them around the city to show off their skills? Are they really export quality?
If the sports are "extra-curricular", why do they all take place during class?
Why are 6 of the 16 kids on Academic "Probation" missing class to represent our school at these events?