Reflections on Sports, Education and Peace

By Prof.Alicia Cabezudo

School life can be seen today as an imaginary “front - line” crossed in different directions by diverse types of violence currently present in society.

Violence of the socio-economic system with its continuous adjustments that provoke poverty and misery to a large number of the world population.Violence of the political systems committed by governments that intend to play a representative role they really haven’ while civil society demands ethic behavior , democratic participation , respect and shared - decision power.Daily life violence seen in private and public spaces that tend to be reproduced in the activities where we participate such as work places and recreation spots, school and community sites.In summary, the socio economic situation that creates marginality and social class gaps inject to society different types of violence rooted in injustice, inequity and frustration. Even sport celebrations come to be - too often - violent nightmares instead of friendly spaces for enjoying good time. In the last years this has been happening widely in football matches and in many other sports. Let’s try to see sport events from another corner.The Foot Ball World Cup should be a joyful celebration for children, youngsters and for the whole population at large. It is a worldwide celebration in which people live pending on TV matches fixture, scores, results, bets, penalties, famous foot-ball players’ names and infinite winning combinations.The Cup is the main subject of conversation in friendly talks with neighbors, family members and working partners. It becomes an open topic for dialogue; for defending different options and positions; for sharing sport passion and expectations; for lunching or dining with others and mainly for sharing free time in a jolly and collective way.It is a kind of celebration that facilitates meetings, open communication, exchange of ideas and socialization through affective (and effective!) relationships. All of them valuable patterns applicable in a teaching-learning process.We have and extraordinary opportunity to make this celebration a new learning experience in the education field where the importance of living together, the respect of “the others”, the interculturality as social strength and opportunity, the different / similar cultural tips and the collective work towards social goals can be discussed as dimensions of an ethical and political “curriculum” -  same to very many countries in the world.Why not transforming the Football World Cup in a democratic education proposal where football “popular knowledge”, experiences, stories and practices can be approached as relevant teaching resources for a better understanding of the present world ?Why not approaching the Football World Cup as a teaching tool given by the opportunity of re-thinking the diversity of our societies given by different cultural, ethnic and geographical roots? Why don’t we think about new topics that can be added to formal school curriculum , transferred to the multiple disciplines into which the system divides school knowledge and practices ?Studies on “far and exotic countries  ( how “far and exotic” can they be, when their peoples are our next-door neighbors in the same street of our multicultural cities? ) ; readings on unknown geographical sites; research on different ways of government and laws; arts, crafts and customs; religions and cults; past and present history of diverse regions; economic relationships; trade and business; common problems shared by many states and collective search for solutions  as well  as very many other topics for discussion might open possibilities for reflecting, exchanging and learning in an active process .

Which it’s certainly more creative than only “watching” the international matches . . .

The possible application of the World Cup as an educational resource in creating Culture (s) of Peace would have to be confronted to the traditional learning(s) of this event , when educators generally develop a mechanical  recitation of the countries listed in the Cup and a passive observation - sometimes with surprise - of unknown countries lost in the maps - suddenly becoming well known Big Ones due favorable scores.The foot - ball teams offer by their diversity and differences - and their multiple ways of life and visions - the possibility of rich dialogue and exchange, generating  new lessons on political, religious and cultural pluralism. Pluralism that enriches the learning process and become a fundamental pillar in the democratic and civic formation of children, youngsters and adults.The construction of these values; the defense and the recognition of the self-governance of nations; the right to peace as a human right and the respect for the international law system; the learning of the collective and social efforts of the human beings along the history in order to be actors in social, political, economic and cultural transformations . All these themes are part of the pedagogical proposal I discuss in this article.It’s time that countries decide to be “good foot-ball teams” - where “each foot-ball player” helps from its “position” to the urgent construction of “scores and results ” towards harmony, cooperation and international solidarity . Foot- ball teams that would make “fair play” all the time - respecting each other and creating vital lessons of brotherhood and understanding.

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