At EIM we take responsibility for the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of our students, particularly during the current Covid-19 crisis. But more importantly, we teach our students so that they may take responsibility for their own physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. We call this the principle of « agency ».
As educational leaders, we guide youngsters to regard a healthy and balanced life as something really essential for them, for their families, for their academic and later on professional development, ultimately for society.
This is not my sole responsibility as coach. It is, first of all, their own endeavour. And it does not just take place during our two weekly lessons of PE. It goes beyond our physical exercices at school, as our theory and practice modules are meant for action in their daily life.
Moreover, and according to the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum -which we implement from ages 5 to 18-, personal, social and physical education is not just the business of Coach Mickaël; on the contrary, all classroom teachers embed it in their programme subjects, making links to what we do at PSPE.
An example of this has been the implementation of our unit of inquiry entitled « Education pour la santé », Health Education. This was planned in coordination with the rest of the teaching staff; during our professional development days back in August, we discussed how it made sense to connect science with physical exercise, for instance.
Picture one shows the result. Isabella, Emma, Argia and Charlotte (all of them PYP4 students, age 9-10, coming from four different countries) devised a tree where sugar and fat rank on top of the caloric hierarchy.
In order to foster inquiry, before they drew this conclusion they had to go through some research in the library; and they also had to come up with concrete examples of food and drink where such components could typically be found.
Last, but not least, they were asked to present their diagramme in a creative and hopefully appealing way to their peers – and to the wider school comunity, as their poster hangs now in their classroom.
Another group, in this case built up out of boys (David, Sarthak, Gonzalo and Eliseo) took a different approach towards a good health praxis and appropriate eating habits. Instead of a tree reflecting nature, they designed a pyramid, yet not the one that we would typically be shown when explaining the chain of nutrients.
Here, the various types of alimentary substances can all play a role in a balanced eating life. When they were asked by their peers to present their work, this group defended that in a Mediterranean diet you can indeed include a respective proportion of proteines, carbohydrates and healthy fats, as long as the proportion is kept. You should not be at the top with sugar and then at the bottom with vegetables, for instance.
In both cases, the same underlying methodology prevails. I could have designed a teacher-oriented, top down model, but I preferred that the students developed their own in groups of four. Thereby they would exercise their skills of teamwork, self-management and autonomy at the same time.
The IB curriculum promotes values and during this lesson we touched upon two, as identified in ManageBac, our ICT tool for communicating with students and parents: the first was « knowledgeable » and the second was « principled ».
Knowledgeable because we cannot meaningfully discuss about a healthy life if we do not know before the conceptual understanding of the various disciplines that have an influence on health. Theory comes before practice; this lesson was necessary to follow up with our physical exercises in the gym.
Secondly, this is also about principles. We can of course lead a reckless life of eating and drinking; but we know the consequences. And we teach by example: If we do not respect ourselves, the future generation will not be able to follow a responsible behaviour towards their own self; we develop dignity, as the Romans so well put it, with mens sana in corpore sano.
For me, as well as for my colleagues, the result has been most satisfying. During the Covid crisis, we have seen how people with a poor nutrition record are subject to higher risks. This is something that will still be true after Covid, as it was valid before. The pandemic has only made it more evident. And it is a rule that applies to all ages; it is important that from childhood on we reflect about how we want to grow up as integral individuals, first as school, then at university and finally during family life.
Bravo to all of my PSPE students!
Written by Coach Mickaël Lacluyse
MS, Université Catholique de Louvain
PSPE teacher at Ecole Internationale Montgomery (EIM)