One of the big conversations I have enjoyed as I have unpacked LAMPE‘s Meaningful PE and the pillars they have shared is to try and explain what is meant by Delight. Delight is not the same as joy or fun and it is important to try and distinguish between the difference.
Kretchmar’s writings mention fun regularly, this is how he has explained fun:
“Things that are fun are often temporary, and they are usually not meaningful. Fun can be used like a band-aid, something that covers over a sore but doesn’t affect a lasting cure. Fun is used by physical educators to mask what could be a distasteful experience. One involving effort, sore muscles, exercise, and sweating.” Dr Scott Kretchmar – Why Useless Play is so Useful in Educational Settings
What we see a lot of is busy, happy students must be having fun – and they may well be. Polling of our MS students often leads them to tell us that the activity was fun, but what I want to find out is how we can grow that ‘fun’ into ‘delight’. Kretchmar suggests that “growing movement playgrounds requires different approaches than providing exercise that is fun.” He suggests that to build meaningful relationships with movement, that we must establish opportunities for people to engage with movement over long periods of time so that the movement becomes part of our being and selves.
PE Teachers have usually tasted and experienced the depths of delight through movement. They know what it feels like, they know that time can disappear, that we are challenged and won’t always succeed. Movement is part of our lives and souls and the collective experiences run deep. PE Teacher staffrooms can be full of sports results, training gear or workout plans as we share experiences and results – almost in another language to students who pop in to say hello.
How do we guide our young apprentices (students) into this depth of movement when they haven’t ever experienced it before? Firstly, we need to plan and create long term partnerships with students to build learning experiences, by having them follow ideas and listen to conversations, we need to engage them by fully immersing them into the experiences of Movement and work hard to make whatever they delight in, be a part of their life fabric.
I didn’t fall in love with Running on Day 1, I would say I didn’t really love it until I had done a full season with the MS team I trained with. The daily training, camaraderie, the challenge of interval training and the support of my coach and teammates, helped me to see myself as a runner and through that newfound identity, I was hooked. The song ‘Shallow’ – there is a moment, where Lady’ Gaga’s character takes a deep breath and walks to the stage to sing. Of course, she is amazing – but all the work that happened before that moment has lead to her jumping further into that deep delight – her face is priceless as she finds her confidence and sings it out- it makes my skin tingle with goosebumps. So powerful, I have had this song on repeat for a few weeks now – it isn’t just fun, it is delightful and I lose track of myself every time I listen to it.
Fun can be a lesson’s work but Delight is a deep cavernous space that takes time to fill with knowledge and experience in order to understand just how powerful Movement can be.