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9 research findings that show why education needs sport

16/09/2016
by Rumen HALACHEV
Language: EN
Document available also in: DE LV BG PL ET FI

/epale/en/file/educationandsportsresizedjpgEducation and sports

Education and sports

For many people, sport and education stand in stark opposition to each other.  One is trivial, the other serious.  One is about play, the other about work.  This divide, which has its roots in Europe’s historical and philosophical past, can be seen clearly in education, where sport (and its educational representative, Physical Education) are frequently given low status, limited curriculum time and inadequate resources. For many parents, sport and other organised forms of physical activity ought to take a more and more marginal position within education as their children get older in order to let them focus on the ‘real business’ of school, which is to help them go on vocational training, higher education, or to work.

Over time, these attitudes have started to change, although change has sometimes been painfully slow. The emergence of the so-called ‘physical inactivity pandemic’ has clearly played a role in sport’s changing fortunes.  As activity levels continue to drop, rates of non-communicable diseases go up.  Sport, as the most popular, palatable form of physical activity for many people, has moved towards the centre of public health policy and practice, as cheap medicine.  At the same time, there has been an acknowledgement of the significant financial contribution that sport, in its different forms, makes. Sport is a large and rapidly growing sector within the European economy, accounting for about 3% of Europe’s total GDP and about 3.5% of employment in the EU. Adult education has responded to this situation with the development of more and increasingly specialised pathways, from teachers and coaches, to the sport goods industry, to sports media and broadcasting.

There is another aspect of the relationship between sport and education, too, and developments in scientific research have only recently highlighted it fully. Evidence from educational research, psychology, the neurosciences and other disciplines is starting to show that the traditional opposition between education and sport is simply mistaken, and that - far from interfering with the business of education - sport can actually make a valuable contribution to it.

To explain this bold claim, I offer nine findings from research into the effects of sport and physical activity that show that activity - in addition to its well-known virtues of keeping bodies fit and healthy, adds enormous value to education.

  1. Sport and physical activity 'nourish' the brain, helping it work grow and operate effectively.   It has been shown that physical activity leads to profound and long-lasting changes in brain wiring, and these developments directly enhance intellectual work.
  2. Sport and physical activity can improve learning and memory.  Learners with a good memory and the ability to learn quickly have a considerable advantage which will influence almost every aspect of their experiences of adult education and beyond.
  3. Even short bouts of a few minutes of sport and physical activity can lead to improved concentration and attention, which directly effects how people learn and retain information.
  4. Numeracy and literacy performance especially improve as a result of increasing levels of physical activity among younger students.
  5. Regular exercise can alleviate depression and anxiety, which can be particular cause for concern during adult education.
  6. Institution-based sports and other physical activities are particularly valuable at creating a sense of belonging and commitment, and can help potentially marginalised students feel included and accepted.
  7. Physically active people perform better academically then their inactive peers, and those who are most active benefit the most.
  8. Physically active students tend to have more qualifications, engage in further study, have an improved chances of securing a good job, and even tend to get promoted more quickly.
  9. Physically active individuals are seen by employers as healthier, more efficient, and more reliable.  So active people are more employable.

Not all sporting experiences are positive, of course, and bad sports teaching and coaching can sometimes be worse than nothing at all.  So it is worthwhile students investing some time in finding the best type of sport or activity for them and the demands of their lives.  But appropriately presented activities that take place in a positive and supportive environment can be inspiration.

So perhaps it is time for educational institutions and their students to think again about their presumptions about the role of sport and physical activity? Far from being fun trivialities, or distractions from the main business of education, the evidence suggests that sport and physical activity can make valuable, distinctive contributions.

/epale/en/file/richardbaileyjpgRichard Bailey

Richard Bailey

Richard Bailey is a former teacher in Primary and Secondary Schools, teacher trainer, coach and coach educator. In addition to his position as Writer in Residence at the ICSSPE (International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education) Executive Office he is an author and blogger. He has worked with UNESCO as Expert Adviser for Physical Education, the World Health Organization, the European Union, and many similar agencies. He was a contributing consultant for both Nike-led Designed to Move and Active Kids Do Better initiatives, and has directed numerous scientific reviews.

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  • Ewa Nowak-Koprowicz's picture

    Powyższy tekst przypomniał mi o idei walk and talk polegającej na organizowaniu spotkań biznesowych podczas spacerów. Moda na chodzone spotkania biznesowe, mocno rozprzestrzeniająca się za przyczyną takich propagatorów jak menedżerowie z Doliny Krzemowej (m.in. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey) czy prezydent Barack Obama, jest coraz bardziej popularna również w Polsce. Tym bardziej, że - obok takich zalet formuły jak łatwiejsze przełamanie lodów, możliwość zrelaksowania się i zachowania koleżeńskich stosunków między członkami zespołu i przede wszystkim zwiększona kreatywność - stawia się ją w opozycji wobec tzw. palenia naszych czasów, czyli siedzenia. W zakresie weryfikacji wspomnianego pobudzania kreatywności poprzez chodzenie odsyłam do badań Marily Oppezzo i Daniela L. Schwartza z University of Stanford, Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking i... zachęcam do ćwiczeń praktycznych.

  • Aleksander Kobylarek's picture

    Zgadzam się, że być może wiele osób nie docenia tzw. sportu rekreacyjnego, jednakże każdy kto ma do czynienia z edukacją dorosłych i andragogiką wie, że do normalnego rozwoju uprawianie aktywności fizycznej jest niezbędne w każdym wieku. Widać to po zmieniającym się stylu życia. Odnoszę wrażenie, że określone w artykule "tradycyjne" przeciwstawienie sportu i edukacji odchodzi coraz bardziej w przeszłość. Dobrze, że autor wspomina o badaniach naukowych- generalnie ostatnio prowadzone badania właśnie wskazują na związki między umiarkowaną aktywnością fizyczną a wydajnością mózgu. 

    Moim zdaniem największe niebezpieczeństwo dla sportu rekreacyjnego stanowi eksploatacja organizmu w pracy. Praca w XX wieku staje się coraz bardziej przeintelektualizowana i absorbująca. Łatwo się zatracić w obowiązkach zapominając o kulturze fizycznej. Przykurcze, skoliozy, nerwobóle (jak rwa kulszowa) biorą się właśnie z takiej wielogodzinnej pracy "przy biurku". Edukacja w miejscu pracy powinna moim zdaniem zawsze brać pod uwagę problem ergonomiczności, który ściśle wiąże poniekąd się z propagowaniem sportu rekreacyjnego, jako przeciwdziałającego wymienionym wcześniej dysfunkcjom organizmu. Przy rozsądnym podejściu nie będzie miejsca na omawiany w artykule dysonanas.

  • Riina Kütt's picture

    Väga hea sisuga ja natuke kesisevõitu tõlkega artikkel.

    Mind huvitab see teema väga ja seda nii üldisest kui isiklikust vaatenurgast. Hea on teada, kuias saab toetada inimese õppimist muuhulgas ka füüsilise tegevuse kaudu.

     

  • Anete Rätsep's picture

    Täname, Riina, et tõlkevigadele tähelepanu pöörasid. Vaatame teksti üle ning teeme vajalikud parandused.