What can education learn from sport?

What can education learn from sport? An image of school children celebrating while playing sports.

What can education learn from sport?

On the same weekend as Manchester City completed a famous treble and Novak Djokovic won another Major to take his tally to a record breaking 23, there was another story that caught my eye.

A fairly shocking headline, in an education system already creaking. But delving further into the Education news over that weekend, you’d also find articles on Ofsted, strikes, bullying, absenteeism, behaviour, bureaucracy, SATs… and more.  They had one thing in common.  They were all negative.

Positivity - education vs sport.

Education. The most powerful tool we have. The key to our futures. Shrouded in a cloud of negativity. And this isn’t a temporary thing. It’s been going on for as long as I can remember. No wonder teachers are leaving in droves and people don’t want to join the profession. Negativity weighs you down.

But sport is continually celebrating achievement. Week in, week out sport promotes excellence and the possibility of greatness. Sport deals in the currencies of competition and success. It creates role models and heroes. It isn’t afraid to have winners and losers. Where winners receive the plaudits, and the losers are encouraged to work harder and come back better next time. No wonder so many children want to become sports stars. Idolising their heroes, and one day hoping to emulate them.

Even though only a tiny minority will ever make it to the pinnacle, it doesn’t matter. It isn’t pretending that everyone “wins” a medal for taking part. And in a way, that’s what makes it so appealing. It’s real. That’s why it attracts participants and viewers in their millions. And as a result, why it attracts sponsors and investment.

Education can learn a huge amount from sport.

Not only about the benefits of competition, but about how to promote itself. All the elements are there, just as they are with sport – there are great results and fantastic achievements and stories. But we need to hear about them for children to appreciate the power of education. So that they have the determination to be their best. 

We need to have great role models in education. We should hear positive stories that celebrate success and promote aspiration. We have to see the people our children will want to emulate. Real people achieving great things because of their education.

And to get that, we need a change of mindset from everyone involved in education. Including the media who report on it, the government who fund it and the teachers who work in it – it’s time to end the negativity and focus on the positives.

Education - a student holding a backpack.

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  • Post last modified:15th June 2023