Saturday, 5 October 2019

Getting physical and educational!

Yesterday was a very sedentary day. My daughter and I went to visit the oldest granddaughter. This is what you do when they are living independently. She was working from home, an option which suits her and her partner as they alternate who works from home and who goes into the office to work, thus providing almost constant companionship for their adolescent black Labrador.

So we had to time our visit to coincide, more or less, with her notional lunch hour. The rest of the time, for our visit of course over-ran the lunch hour slot by quite a long time, we had to keep everyone quiet if her phone rang. This was fine for most of us but did rather puzzle the second-smallest visitor, the three-year-old, who wanted to sing songs from “Frozen” and even to watch some “My Little Pony” on television.

Had our hostess not been “working” we might have suggested a bit of a walk with the Labrador, as it turned into a rather nice afternoon. But it was not to be and so we sat around and chatted instead.

 No doubt my Fitbit will have been disappointed. It sends me a pat on the back when I exceed my target number of steps for a day but keeps quiet on the less-step-productive days.

But I have made up for it today with a run round the village first thing, an autumn-cleaning session, vacuuming just about the whole house, and then doing our quarry-walk with Phil, up the steep hill, round a few farms and eventually back home.

I don’t think we need to sign up for a course in “physical literacy”. Since Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson won gold medals in Doha in the last few days, Tim Hollingworth, CEO of Sport England says that children should be taught “physical literacy” in school, just as they are taught to read and write. He believes that children will be inspired to follow the example of these two successful athletes and that we should take advantage of the expected upsurge in interest to encourage as many children as possible to get busy with sport. An excellent idea!

John Crace, in his “Digested Week”, wrote about making his children do athletics training as he felt he had missed out in his youth, despite encouragement from his mother. “I was determined my children were going to live the life I had missed out on and forced them down to Tooting Bec athletics track every Tuesday and Thursday evening for training.
This went on for several years but was an unmitigated disaster, even though they were both quite good.
Both children hated it and Anna was the only athlete I knew who would invariably declare she had injured herself in the warm-ups.” Perhaps they needed a role-model!

Something persuading people of all ages to go out and do something active is Parkrun, which is now 15 years old. The combined distance run in this way by people in numerous countries around the world is 162million miles. That’s 53.8million parkruns globally, or 3,118 years, 25 days, 7 minutes and 8 seconds of running!

All this from an unemployed chap organising for a group of friends to run round a park together.

The man who had the bright idea to organise parkruns, Paul Sinton-Smith said, “One of the things I’m most proud of is that every year the average finish time at parkrun has slowed. That means we are reaching more people for whom physical activity hasn’t been the norm.”

Some friends of our daughter travel around the country in their camper-van at weekends, taking part in parkruns far and wide. Their six-year-old daughter goes with them and runs with them. Not only does she run but as a rule she is the fastest finisher.

Pretty impressive, is it not?

In the world of education other ideas are being floated. The Department for Education is trying to persuade more graduates in Modern Languages and Sciences, particularly Physics and Chemistry, to go into teaching and to stay in teaching for more than just a few years by offering them bonuses. Graduates could be earning £35,000 per annum.
Isn’t that the magic number that makes you a professional? The number that was bandied about as being the amount foreigners should be earning if they wanted to stay in the UK? How nice to be a professional at last - well, not actually me personally but some of the people I taught French and Spanish to in sixth form and who went on to become teachers.

Will it work? Who knows? Wait and see.

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