I learned a lot about how to give learning a physical component from the late Christina Patterson. I had always been good at using manipulatives, getting people moving and so on, but Christina pushed physicality to a new level for me.
One year, near the beginning of term, she took a whole class to the local archery club for a morning of lessons from the club pro, followed by lunch.
When they all got back to the classroom, Christina got the discussion started with “What did you learn about hitting a target?” and made a list as students talked.
- Keep your eye on the target.
- Get yourself centered and keep your balance.
- Don’t forget to breathe.
- Take a break and come back to it. You do better then.
- Don’t get distracted by things around you.
- Watch what other people are doing–you can learn from them.
- Focus on the instructor: Really listen and watch carefully.
When the list had been made, Christina introduced the idea that the goal of the literacy class was to get better at reading and writing. Did hitting that target have anything to do with shooting an arrow?
Well, who would have guessed! They went over each item on the list and talked about what it looked like in the context of doing school work.
A lesson on being a master student started with getting sore arm muscles in the archery ring, and students brought in the content of the lesson, not the teacher.
Teachers need to be out in the community making connections, not staying home marking papers, so that they have an “in” with places like the local archery club.