Illustrious Celebrities on the dias, in the august gathering, ladies and gentlemen committed to the noble Olympic movement, Greetings from India. I am Dr. A.M. Najeeb, a physical education professor in one of the leading Technological universities owned by the government of India, the National Institute of Technology Calicut and one of the few Olympic educators of India. I am thrilled and honoured to be delivering a humble lecture titled, “Interdisciplinary Approach of the Teaching of Olympic Principles to the Students,” and acting as the ambassador of my country and my institution at the International Olympic Academy.
My lecture would consist of discussion on the universally approved interdisciplinary strategies and some corresponding experiences while teaching Olympic values and principles to the engineering students of my institution. I was initiated in to the Olympic Values Education Programme by the Indian National Olympic Committee during March 2010, where at the seminar I promised Mr. Tommy Sithole, the IOC Director for International Development and Cooperation, that I would spread the Olympic message among students. Since then from July 2010 to this day I have successfully inculcated in 1000 students the values and principles of olympism. As my students are from the engineering stream, interdisciplinary strategy was applied for effective transfer of knowledge.
“Teaching Values - An Olympic Education Toolkit” by Dr. Deanna L. Binder, of the University of Alberta, Canada, was the main reference book that I used for teaching Olympic values to my students. I am deeply indebted to Madam Binder and her excellent teaching techniques at New Delhi for having motivated people like me to take up Olympic values education to develop our students in to meaningful citizen. Madam Binder has said “in a world where obesity is a major concern, and where children in deprived communities need hope and a sense of achievement, physical activity and sport have an important role to play.”
Since its launching in April 2008, the Toolkit has brought about tremendous awakening among the youth. Let us now take a peek at the universally approved interdisciplinary strategies.
It requires planning that looks at the foundational objectives of a number of curriculum areas connecting them in an efficient way to help teachers (Jacobs) to teach the whole student and make links between disciplines. In short, it is a Strategy adopted by teachers for effective transfer of knowledge.
Purpose of the interdisciplinary strategy:
Planning and teaching an interdisciplinary unit:
Activity plans used to develop activities:
Unit: Principle of Fair Play on playfields: Do students come to the play facilities?
- Knowledge: Identify the students on the respective playfields.
- Comprehension: Observe students’ behaviour on the fields.
- Application: Chart the visitors to the various playfields.
- Analysis: Compare the students’ behaviour on the various fields.
- Synthesis: Provide a Teacher/ coach/ Instructor on each field.
- Evaluation: Appraise its effect.
The above example of interdisciplinary activity shows the target group of professional students and the dependent variable of ethics (Olympic principle or value). The subject areas are science, language, psychology & ethics.
Salient features of the strategy:
Let me also mention some of the other key strategies:
University education in India is reined by the Governments through rules, regulations and guidelines. In a highly populated country like India, the number of degree seekers flocking the universities is so high that the desired quality control is difficult to achieve. While the prerogative is to develop ideal citizens through university education, the infrastructure is lacking. There are universities without even a proper playground for its students, let alone the faculty to look after the students’ welfare, fitness and wellness. However, those responsible for their own curricula do include sports, physical education and their values in the respective curricula.
My institute, the National Institute of Technology Calicut pioneered in this line by introducing compulsory Physical Education curriculum for its undergraduate students with a one-credit course to support it. Olympic Values Education is one of the courses offered to the students.
“Our world is in need of peace, tolerance and brotherhood. By blending Sport with culture and education, the Olympic values can deliver these to us.” – Jacques Rogge, IOC President
Sport is not just a competition; but a state of mind. The Olympic movement considers it a challenge to educate the youth of the world and encourage them to practice sports. Sports help one to escape concerns, respect one another and learn to respect and abide by rules. Sports also aid in shaping the mind with the body and bringing with it joy, hope, pride, sense of identity and health. It is therefore the objective of the IOC to strive to encourage and promote life values & skills through Olympic Values Education Programme.
The President reasserts that Olympic movement of tomorrow is in the hands of the young people of today. If they learn to respect one another on the sports field, they will transfer this virtue to other elements of their daily lives. Peace, harmony and brotherhood will then naturally descend on the earth. The fact that IOC looks up to physical education teachers of the world to spread the Olympic message is heartening and a major recognition to the profession. The International Olympic Academy leaves no stone unturned in pursuing and making this a reality with exclusive sessions being arranged for physical educators of the world to prepare them for the specific task.
Learning is an active and not a passive activity. It involves writing, discussion, debates and creative activities like sports participation. Some learn best reading, some write and others achieve it listening or in creating things. Olympic Values Education Programme or OVEP uses multifaceted processes to educate students. Even though some learn well individually, OVEP mostly believes in collective thinking and doing to pass on knowledge. Interdisciplinary strategy is one of the effective methods for teaching Olympic values and principles.
A Value or Principle is what is considered important in life; making it worth living. It helps people decide what is right or wrong in moral terms. Heritage is a form of legacy, tangible and intangible. Tangibles are monuments or works of art while intangibles are languages, films, music crafts, culture including Sport movements and techniques. Sport is defined by UNESCO (2004) as forms of physical activity like play and indigenous sport that contribute to physical fitness, mental wellbeing and social interaction. Culture is everything that allows people to situate themselves in relation to the world, society and also the heritage passed on to them.
Olympism is a philosophy of life exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind blending sport with culture and education. It aims at creating a way of life based on the joy of effort and educational values. Its goal is to place sport at the service towards harmonious development of man with a view to promote a peaceful society concerned with preservation of human dignity. The Olympic movement is the concerted, organised and permanent action carried out under the supreme authority of the IOC and all entities inspired by the values of olympism. The practice of sport is a human right and every individual must have the possibility of practicing the sport without any discrimination. Every sport should be organised and administered by independent sports organisations. There shall be no discrimination in sport based on race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise. Belonging to the Olympic movement will require compliance with the Olympic charter and recognition by the IOC. Therefore it is necessary to teach the Olympic message to young students who will control the future world and ensure sports participation without bias or discrimination.
There are five educational values/ principles recognised in Olympism. They have been extracted from the fundamental principles and worded in appropriate manner to be relevant for educational purposes. They importantly incorporate the three interdisciplinary domains of learning, namely Cognitive (Intellectual), Affective(Social/ emotional) and Kinesthetic (Physical). The learning of values is mainly behavioural leading to character development.
JOY OF EFFOR: Youngsters develop and practice physical, behavioural and intellectual skills by challenging themselves and each other in physical activities, movement, games and sport.
Interdisciplinary strategy adopted in the principle of JOY OF EFFORT would be to transcend across the disciplines of science, management, psychology and kinesiology. To succeed in any effort requires planning, application of science, mental readiness and the physical execution of the movement. The joy derived from the success of the effort is mental and psychological. The students can be assigned exercises in the class room or the playfield or both and may be allowed to plan and execute in groups and report back their joyous feelings on successful completion of the assigned project. For example, two groups in Field Hockey could be assigned the task of planning a move to score a goal in five minutes time. Planning could be done in the class room and the execution on the hockey field. They will report back to the teacher their joyous feelings both orally and in writing. The joy that results is intense because you overcome challenges.
FAIR PLAY: Though Fair play is a concept, it is applied worldwide today in many different ways. Learning fair play behaviour in sport can lead to the development and reinforcement of fair play behaviour in the community and in life.
Interdisciplinary strategy adopted in the principle of FAIR PLAY would be to transcend across the disciplines of science, ethics, psychology and kinesiology. The students need to be playing on the playground to inculcate fair play values. Two soccer groups could be deployed to teach fair play principles to all the other students of the institution. The spectator groups could be reporting the foul tactics adopted by the playing groups and the ensuing discussion would facilitate a post-mortem. Installing “Fair-play trophies” in soccer and other tournaments in the institute will enhance the learning process. The inculcated value should naturally transfer to the community.
RESPECT FOR OTHERS: When young people who live in a multicultural world learn to accept and respect diversity and practise personal behaviour, they promote peace and international understanding.
Interdisciplinary strategy adopted in the principle of RESPECT FOR OTHERS would be to transcend across the disciplines of science, ethics, psychology, human rights and kinesiology. Students need to be taught that charity begins at home. You start to respect elders in the home and transfer it to the neighbourhood, society, school, university and community. The orientation day in the institute would be the best opportunity to enlighten parents of the need for this vital principle. On the playfield this is a give and take principle. You get respect only when you give it to others. The principle is also based on human rights issue of the world. Every individual has the right to exist in his/her own right and all others are required to respect that. Respect should also cover diversities because unity achieved through diversities satisfy you more.
PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE: A focus on excellence can help young people to make positive, healthy choices, and strive to become the best that they can be in whatever they do.
Interdisciplinary strategy adopted in the principle of PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE would be to transcend across the disciplines of science, ethics, psychology, biomechanics and kinesiology. Every student would strive to perform his/her best to achieve excellence. Be it in the field of education, sports or extracurricular activities, the student would aim to pursue the path of excellence. The Olympic principles are best taught and learned through activities and this principle is more personal than any other. The tendency of youngsters to play vigorously and to move, walk, run, sing and dance need to be utilized and channelized in order achieve excellence.
BALANCE BETWEEN BODY, WILL AND MIND: Learning takes place in the whole body, not just in the mind, and physical literacy and learning through movement contributes to the development of moral and intellectual learning. This concept became the foundation of Pierre De Coubertin’s interest in a revival of the Olympic games.
Interdisciplinary strategy adopted in the principle of BALANCE BETWEEN BODY, WILL AND MIND would be to transcend across the disciplines of science (neuromuscular system), psychology and kinesiology. The perfection of coordination between muscles and the brain is of foremost importance. The mental strength or will power follows with the proverb “where there is a will, there is a way” as the backdrop. The mind is the ultimate ruler sending signals to the muscles, debating over the effectiveness of the strategy and the final move to execute the project with perfect synchronisation of the body, brain and mind. This principle stresses the superiority of the whole-body over parts of the body in implementing plans. The students finally realise that this value is transferable to their day to day routine affairs bringing meaning and satisfaction in life.
The IOC apart from the Games devotes much of its attention to education of the youth. The International Olympic Academy, I have learned, is the senior partner for accomplishing this goal. The Olympic Education actually portrays a major canvas consisting of
The teaching of the Olympic principles can be achieved through the pathways of 1) Education through Olympism—an integrated and cross curricular approach; 2) Teacher centred class rooms; 3) Olympic theme or week; 4) Excellence through sports and physical education for young and gifted athletes; and 5) Training teachers and group leaders.
The educational values and principles of the Olympic movement originated from European philosophy and traditions but resonate in the 200 nations belonging to the Olympic family. There are differences in the traditional and cultural settings of these nations and teaching of values and their acceptance is a major challenge in some nations. Hence the basic duty of the educators will be to identify the ways that Olympic principles can amalgamate with existing educational priorities and to adapt and use the various activities appropriate to the realities of local belief systems and situations.
The Olympic Symbol, the Flag, the Oaths, the flame, the peace symbols, The games’ posters, the logos and mascots, the arts and crafts are household entities of today’s generation. Hence the teaching of the principles and values is considered incomplete without awareness of the symbols. There are plenty to learn and inculcate from these visible entities. They represent culture and heritages of every nation and an understanding of these at close quarters instils peace, harmony and brotherhood. The symbols and ceremonies, sports and cultural events of the Olympic Games are inspiring, motivational and provide a relevant context for learning and teaching activities.
As a physical educator and an Olympic educator, my first and foremost objective is to convince the powers that matter in the educational scene to include Olympic values education in the university curriculum in India. This is a must-learn subject that deal in inculcation of character and values that add to the richness of one’s life. The student not only becomes aware of exemplary character but also of meaningful existence in the society and community. The advantage of the values education is that it teaches through practise of sports that ensure wellness of body and mind. It encourages unity and brotherhood, respect for foreign culture and diverse values and the realisation that Sports has no boundary. The values are inculcated through team work and group projects leading to group dynamics and cohesiveness.
The Olympic values and principles in nutshell, is a superb knowledge-house, with no curricular boundaries, that enriches the university student preparing him/her to be the future nation builder inculcating in him/her the realisation that the future belongs to today’s youth who should be thinking beyond religion, caste, creed, sex and boundaries separating cultures. The IOC with the help of IOA will not leave any stone unturned in its quest to educate the world youth the ultimate values that mark the corner-stone of healthy, thinking, vibrant and peace loving societies.