Sport has many virtues and can be used, among many other things, as a powerful leverage to motivate young people at risk of dropping out of school. The Erasmus+ project SMILE is a great case study of what can be achieved.
‘Slow down, Move your body, Improve your diet, Learn for life and Enjoy school time’ (S.M.I.L.E.) was designed to help reduce the percentage of early school leavers in Europe’s secondary schools. At the same time, it aimed to stimulate students to gain knowledge, skills and competences to cope with the requirements of a knowledge-based society.
To achieve these goals, 6 European schools and a university from Italy, Latvia, Poland, Turkey and Romania set up a specific educational path for 350 students aged 14-18, based mainly on the pedagogical use of sport and physical education. The partners also developed innovative teaching methods (Content and Language Integrated Learning - CLIL, active learning, use of ICT) to involve pupils in school life and build significant ties with the learning community at large. Creating modules for active, student-centred lessons also provided an incentive for teachers to update their teaching methods and get closer to students' changing channels of information and modes of learning.
Motivating activities based on sports (traditional, non-traditional, popular, individual, team) were proposed. They took into account the importance of attracting pupils towards learning through what they like and enjoy doing, instead of obliging them to stick to modes of learning far from their reality and from the requirements of a fast moving and changing knowledge-based society.
Another important aspect of the project was the transnational learning activities for both students and teachers. A series of 6 meetings gave the participants the opportunity to share ideas directly, exchange good practices, work together in European teams and become active citizens.
The project has been praised by teachers, parents and pupils. The non-formal learning approach was particularly appreciated by pupils, as they wrote in their tweets: ‘non-traditional learning is a great way to learn new things’; ‘possibility of mobility motivates students to learn English and develop yourself :)’; ‘non-traditional learning makes students more creative’; ‘making video is such a great way to learn’; ‘stop studying with books - start studying with fun’, etc.!
If you would like to discover more great projects around the topic of sports, health and well-being, do not hesitate to browse the Erasmus+ Project Results Platform, and get inspired!