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Traditions, Cross Country

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Started by merryl 27 Aug 2014 9:11pm () Replies (17)

Hi all

Just a question re cross country. Why do we do this in schools? Has anyone made changes? Stopped it altogether? How does it fit? :)


  • tim morgan (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2014 9:15pm ()

    Yes I have done different things with the cross country and have recorded a google hangout on air to support this.

  • Brendon Anderson (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2014 9:20pm ()

    We got rid of it. It took bold leadership and a lot of discussion looking at the purpose of it, traditions of the past which may no longer apply and in discussing how it actually impacted student learning and achievement. Perhaps the most powerful point was this last.


    Kind regards

  • tim morgan (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2014 9:26pm ()

    OK interesting. I lead workshops in the idea that cross country can provide an opportunity for students to explore how different formats can effect students experience. eg. different training approaches can enhance social outcomes, competitive outcomes or physical fitness outcomes.

    The curriculum AO's across all 4 strands allow you to find authentic learning through a cross country module. I would however be quite ok with the idea of cancelling it all together. But I would want to discuss how and if the PE curriculum demands are being address accurately. Interesting discussion. 

    Try www.honestpe.blogspot.com  

  • Brendon Anderson (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2014 9:47pm ()

    Hi Tim

    How would you see using cross country as authentic learning for a 5 year old? Interested in your thoughts.

  • tim morgan (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2014 10:38pm ()

    Hi Brendon

    sorry i think i replied to merryl. basically Id use cross country as one activity among many to address and discuss ao's such as...

    A2 Regular physical activity

    Participate in creative and regular physical activities and identify enjoyable experiences.

    B2 Positive attitudes; B4 Challenges and social and cultural factors

    Participate in a range of games and activities and identify the factors that make participation safe and enjoyable.

    D3 Rights, responsibilities, and laws; D4 People and the environment

    Take individual and collective action to contribute to environments that can be enjoyed by all.

    Exactly what i'd do is a workshop in itself. I think you are totally justified in cancelling the cross country but would ask how are these AO's and many other being address explicitly. 

  • merryl (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2014 9:40pm ()

    Hi again

    I find it interesting we make all students often do this event. What if I am not built to run long distance cross country? Why do I need to compete in front of an audience. What if I am a cyclist? Where is the full school event for me? 

    Are the training programmes relevant for young children. 

    More thoughts


  • tim morgan (View all users posts) 27 Aug 2014 9:46pm ()

    totally agree 

    Im not talking about training programmes (im much softer than that- and certainly not a hard core sports nut) but rather looking at how different approaches can enhance the social or personal goal aspects. 

    I morph cross country to include features of adventure based learning and novelty sports like the winter duathlon. Basically the purpose of the unit is to explore the impact of the organisation of physical activity. Which approach is best for participants fun, participants challenge, spectators experience etc.

    I think all students should take part in the unit of learning about PA as it connects with numerous AO's in the curriculum. However as for the actual event - I could take it or leave it.

  • Steve Dunsmore (View all users posts) 11 Sep 2014 6:44am ()

    Hi Tim/Merryl et al...  belatedly, having provoked Merryl's ire today, I find myself favouring our school's latest X-Country event.  It was one that allowed our whole school to come together and partake/compete/bond/support in an event that was as competitive as required for those 'racing snakes' while also being as non-threatening as possible for those who are not 'natural athletes'...

    From Y1-8, from racers to plodders, every participation was celebrated.  See Tim 27 Aug, 10:38. D3 for details.  My Y7 ex-home-school boy (3rd week ever at school) was blown away by the day and when the inevitable PMI was completed he identified the supportive nature of the event as the key to a great day out.

    Adrenaline pumps/parents cheer/personal barriers are confronted and broken. It might not be specifically linked to an AO or LI for a 5 year old's student achievement but it can enable a sense of self-worth and achievement (without the use of a pen) that many children savour.


    We still accept it as part of our programme.  We make it a positive experience for all.


  • merryl (View all users posts) 11 Sep 2014 7:08pm ()

    Hi Steve

    Just wondering if you would like to outline the training programmes for your students? I'm interested if you personalise the training at all?

    How do you know cross country is a positive experience for all? Why are we asking all to run cross country, are we all built to run cross country?

    I guess I look at it slightly differently.

    I've thought about team challenges with water pistols, popcorn syops etc..could achieve the same without the long waits...  We do have some children who don't like the cross country. Did you  as a child run well and enjoy it?

    I wonder how the teachers would feel if they had to run with an audience watching.

    What are your thoughts around school swimming sports?

    Traditional swimming sports are a little bit like cross country to me. We know who will win before the day. What about those children who make tremendous progress in the swimming programme. They are not celebrated at the traditional sports. Interesting too what the latest thinking about primary schools and swimming and what it says in the curriculum.:)

    I have concerns over Health and PE programmes in schools? Are we sustaining that well, is what we do linked to best practice in this area? I will share my readings folder with you. How do you manage this at your school? Great to chat on VLN though!!!! Hope you are behaving in NP.


  • Steve Dunsmore (View all users posts) 11 Sep 2014 10:29pm ()

    Thanks Merryl - like many teachers and principals I share concerns about children being 'forced or coerced' into compulsory enjoyment such as "games' in whatever form they take.  See my schooling circa 1970-84 for details...


    The opportunity at my school is driven by context as well as intent.  Kaipaki is part of a small group of 5 rural schools that provide mutual support to each other though PLGs, moderation meetings and so on.  The chance to hold a 'sporting event' for the whole school is a powerful player in recognising that we are trying to be an authentic learning community in the broadest sense and live our 3 school values - one being 'Excellence' which children have broken down to trying their best even though it might not be the 'gold medal??' standard.


    Opportunities to bring the whole school together through productions...(god forbid!), sports days, mucking in days etc are few and far between, especially when combining in the collegiality of 4 other schools.


    SO when an opportunity such as the dreaded cross country appears....we grab it!


    'Pulling on the school shirt and feeling the love' is the most powerful and energising part of the whole (15 minute max.) experience.  It isn’t about devising an optimum fitness programme differentiated between y5/6 and y7/8.  It is about effort and accomplishment, support determination and facing a challenge.


    That is why we do it.  Others may do such event for other reasons such as glory in winning or school reputation.  We do it for fun.  Nobody 'piked out'.  All celebrated completion. 


    I will delve into your readings but honestly, it is really big picture stuff, on an occasion such as this.


    Team Wallis 2014 (2 still running...)

  • Steve Dunsmore (View all users posts) 11 Sep 2014 10:53pm ()

    And for some reason I have failed to master the VLN and upload appropriately 'jovial' picures of exhausted but happy children...


  • Steve Dunsmore (View all users posts) 11 Sep 2014 10:54pm ()

    VLN drag'n'drop would be good.  I think it called google...

  • LEAST (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2014 12:46pm ()

    Hi all , just joining in here.

    As a lead teacher for Health and Pe in my small but active school i find that we are increasingly tied into traditional events by cluster or regional expectations.

    I am a firm beliver in physical education daily for all however this should be differentiated for the individual just as literacy or mathematics are.

    Skill development is essential but perhaps we have to look at the place for sporting events in ours chool calendars and reinvent some long standing traditions.

  • merryl (View all users posts) 13 Sep 2014 4:07pm ()

    Great to have someone else sharing their thoughts. Agree whole heartedly that we need to reinvent some long standing school traditions. Traditions from the past in schools tend to scare me.



    With the transformation of curriculums that the 2007 National Curriculum asked  for, we must revisit traditional events and using our heart and head reflect on these against what we know about learners and learning. 

    Considering our beliefs around individualising learning pathways, personalised learning , locus of control, learners knowing what the outcomes are and how this benefits them, we have no choice but to look at things differently.

    Many traditional events are sports based. Interestingly. If it is community participation or involvement that drives these practices then how can we do things differently to optimise what we are looking for? Is it teachers moving around getting to chat with parents? A togetherness feeling? 

    Perhaps this could be achieved in a better way? A different way. Ask the students.

    I wonder how long we spend 'training' for these events like cross country? Does this training reflect what the PE/Health essence statement says in your curriculum or best practice in this area?

    If we are wanting to show case learning we must consider how we share the learning journey, not the outcome. When I look at cross country we often celebrate the winners. Actually I dont think the school can really say they made the difference. How have the children improved taking increased responsibilty for their own physical well being? 


    Some schools have changed traditional swimming sports?? Often there is a display only. Schools are educating parents around skills students need to have  to meet basic aquatic and water safety skills. Things are looking different in this area.

    I believe schools keep doing cross country because it is easy. I dont believe we do it for learning. Should the learning drive the event or the event drive the learning? Luckily this year I manged to ensure it did not impact on my classroom too much. In fact we did very little preparation for this event. This did not impact on the results.

    How much trianing does your school do?

    If we are doing this event to allow students to develp perseverance then I believe we need to revisit the decisons we are making. Question our practice. Bring student voice into this, personalise the learning.

    As Least said we do it for Maths, Reading and Writing. Are we really looking at skill development in cross country? 

    If we are running events for all to pick the small team that will represnt our school then let them choose to compete? Most know who will place in the top three.

    THink of the things we send our children out to represent our school, tennis, chess, literacy quizz, gymnastics, .....did the school develop these children's strengths?

    Cross Country is an old tradition, have we reflected on its purpose? Do we reflect after the event and ask ourselves and our students how well we achieved this? Where does it fit in the curriculum? Is it the schools job?

    Enjoying this opportunity to have this dialogue.



  • LEAST (View all users posts) 14 Sep 2014 8:18am ()

    Yes Meryl,

    I agree that aquatic programmes need to take a wider community focus in educating the parents/whanau. We are a small country school with little more than a paddling pool for the students to get wet in. I was not at the school for the aquatics programme in term 1 but understand that the junior programme is skill based on stroke develoment and that the seniors swam 2 days /week at a nearby pool.

    I am pleased to say that we are attending a beach day with surf lifesaving as a focus. Perhaps this sort of day could replace the traditional swimming sports. Our better swimmers have to opt for a swim club if they want the training to improve, as our facilities just dont cut it.

    The expense of updating, improving or even just upkeep is also becoming prohibitive for all schools to have a pool.

    I congratulate students that have the ability to suceed in any sporting area, but as you say did we facilitate this ability or is it a natural phenomonem? Yes we should provide opportunities for students to experience sucess at all levels but is sport where their interests lie.

    Please note i am referring to sport not physical activity or skill development.

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