The vast majority of coaches and teachers put FUN very high on their list of priorities when planning and delivering lessons/coaching sessions. Here are some reasons why this may be detrimental to the children…
- Why shouldn’t it be fun? In other words when would we ever prepare session content that we think the children would NOT enjoy. So fun is the default position but elevating it’s importance may have a negative impact on the quality of the learning experience.
- What do adults know about what children find fun? Probably not much but we do know about what children find SATISFYING and that’s learning in a safe and secure environment. Learning leads to COMPETENCE and it’s competence that has the biggest impact on whether a child is retained in sport and physical activity or not. Building competence is sometimes difficult and challenging so a child may not be smiling when being challenged but they will feel a sense of SATISFACTION when they meet the challenge. So fun is an OUTCOME of really good learning and not necessarily a driver.
- FUN can be trivialising. If it’s about FUN, it may not matter if a child doesn’t make progress. ‘Never mind, you did your best’. Transfer to the ‘important’ stuff like numeracy and literacy and this can be seen to be an untenable position. Kids have one body, and teachers and coaches have an obligation in ensuring everyBODY grows into a skilled body.
- FUN can lead to poor practice. In an attempt to make things FUN, I hear lots of coaches and teachers using excessive hyperbole in their praise of the children. Everything is fantastic, excellent or brilliant. Carol Dweck would say this is a malaise born out of our fear of shattering what we perceive to be children’s fragile self esteem. Let’s give them some credit – kids are made out of much sterner stuff and we do them a disservice if we lower our expectations.
So let’s shift the focus. If we aim to build COMPETENCE, we facilitate SATISFACTION and ultimately this leads to years of ENJOYMENT. It’s far more serious than mere FUN.