Sports are more than just games in the MUIDS’ P.E. department. They are a way to help students build confidence and discover that the only limits they have are the ones they give themselves.
“At the beginning of the year most new MUIDS students jog a lap during warm ups, but then they start walking,” James Hanham, director of the MUIDS P.E. department, explained. “When I ask them why they’re walking they tell me that it’s too hot, that exercise hurts, that they’re too tired, any excuse you can think of. What they soon understand is that exercise was never meant to be pleasant. It was meant to be a challenge.”
It’s a challenge for anyone to push themselves during exercise. The P.E. department’s solution for its students is to make exercise fun.
“Students in P.E. are graded based on participation, engagement, and skill: participation means whether or not you’re doing what the teacher asks you to do, engagement is if you’re thinking about the activity and not something else while skill is whether or not you’re improving in an activity or sport. We spend less time grading them on skill and more time on participation and engagement. Our main goal is to get them moving around and to convince them that exercise is worth the effort.”
The P.E. department uses the “Perceived Rate of Exertion” test to help motivate students. The test first asks students to run sprints, then asks them to write down on a number from one to ten how hard they think they worked. This number shows students how hard they think they’re exercising. Afterwards, students run until they are completely out of breath. They’re then asked how hard they think they can run. Their new number is much higher. Students then carry this newfound confidence into a variety of sports.
“Most schools in Thailand only offer two sports per academic year. Our department teaches students eight sports throughout the year. This approach is like a tasting session where you sample different foods before deciding which one you want to eat as a whole meal. It gives students many opportunities to find a sport they’re passionate about, develop the skills they need to play it well, and continue playing it into college.”
For most students though the pressure to succeed academically often overwhelms their interest in sports. “Many times students tell me that they don’t have time for sports. Their main priority is doing well in their classes so that they can go to a good university and get a good job. They’re only half-right.”
“Universities and employers do look for people who have ‘hard skills,” things like computer programming, the ability to speak a second language, strong writing ability, and other skills. You learn those skills in classes like Math, Science, English, Social Studies, and most of your electives. People are aware of them because they’re easy to measure. You can either speak English clearly or you can’t; it’s that simple.”
“Universities though are also looking for people with ‘soft skills”: teamwork, flexibility, self-motivation. These skills are harder to measure because you can’t necessarily count them. They’re also harder to develop in classrooms. At times students do work in groups in English and Math classes, but most of the time they have to work on their own.”
“Sports on the other hand give students many opportunities to work in groups and build those soft skills universities and employers are looking for. In sports, you have to work together all the time. That’s the only way you and your team can succeed.”
Recently MUIDS joined AISAA, giving MUIDS students more opportunities to build soft skills and discover a sport they’re passionate about. AISAA is a sports league that’s made up of several international schools and was founded to help teach students good sportsmanship. MUIDS played its first competition this past September where the school’s boys varsity football team defeated Wells.
“Our students fought hard and played well, “Mr. Hanham added. “Most important of all though, they showed good sportsmanship and worked well as a team.”
MUIDS will continue competing in the AISAA league throughout the academic year. The varsity girls’ team will play Berkley International School on November 3rd while the varsity boys team will compete against Concordian on November 5th. Click below for the full schedule.