How extra curricular activities can facilitate a holistic learning process

“There’s something you need to know ….” hissed the neighbor secretly to the returning parent.

The parent immediately got disturbed, a range of thoughts flitting through her mind in rapid succession. “Do you know … “ continued the well-meaning neighbor….  “that your teens, along with mine, are spending their entire evenings on the cricket grounds - with major exams around the corner?  I’m taking action tonight, and you should too….!. 

When confronted, the teens airily said something to the effect of “Leave it to us. You want good grades from us, you’ll get it”. “Hmmm, supreme self-confidence” murmured the parent and moved off. Anyway the promise proved right. Two facts emerged from this actual interaction – extra-curricular activities by way of sports build self-confidence. It also produces unease in the minds of parents when it is combined with learning, after all, who’s paying the bills!?

Why is it that parents and in many cases, students, do not see the importance of extra-curricular activities when it comes to the time of entering the higher portals of learning?  Is it a time factor, or is there a perception lurking around out there that non-high performing students are the ones who hold brilliant achievement in such activities upon which laurels they are grabbed by the commercial world …. until the brilliance wanes?

A common description of what an extra-curricular activity looks like is that it simply does not fall within the scope of one’s usual curriculum whether it is in an office, a university or at home. When affiliated with student activities, it does not carry any academic weight. Before dismissing it, there are numerous credits to it that definitely impacts on a person’s performance holistically.

  • Connectivity is enhanced by interaction in a competitive environment. 
  • Responsibility and commitment naturally occur as players interact with one another and their supervising authority.
  • Leadership traits, authority building, teamwork traits are brought to the surface in reaching a common goal. 
  • Players learn the art of cooperation.
  • Physical and mental health and stamina grow. Students who sit long hours at desks risk various health issues to their backs, neck, and feet.
  • Existing skills are enhanced, new skills emerge. There is challenge of a different sort.
  • Motivation develops to a keener degree.
  • Players learn to balance their time according to their commitments. In an age where time is the biggest commodity, this is definitely a double plus. 
  • Unhealthy emotions such as selfishness and risky behaviour such as drugs and undesirable relationships are negated or lose their appeal.

Here are some possibilities that would probably take two or three hours of involvement out of a student’s academic life but pack a great punch in terms of development of life skills: clubs for chess, basketball, body building, cycling, photography, art, drama and  theatre, youth/community clubs, college website, journal or magazine club, musical clubs and more depending on interest. Contrary to popular belief, there has been found to be a great improvement in not only academic but life skills of students who participate in extra-curricular activities. Stepping out into the realm of the real adult world, could there be a better way to arm oneself with the life skills and street smartness that is required in a tough competitive world?  Besides - it is great fun!  He who coined the famous epithet  -All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy definitely knew what he was talking about. 

Created: April 12th, 2016


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