Monday, December 6, 2010

Character Development: Getting kids off the streets and on the playing field

    Recently in today's society, there has been an increase in school-age violence and aggressive behavior after school.  Today's kids are left with a dead space of time between when they get out of school and when their parents come home from work.  Within this time frame, these aggressive and sometimes violent behaviors have been occurring.  Therefore, a plan of action has been administered by the school board to develop an after school program for the local middle school.  This after school program will give the children the opportunity to partake in a scheduled and organized program during the time frame of when school is released and their parents get home from work.  The program will be centered around physical activity and character development; focusing on the development of good sportsmanship.  Our goal is to want these kids to follow rules from a variety of sources, have respect for others, and develop self control when thing aren't in their favor (Park, 2004).  Another goal we would like to focus on is that this character development doesn't only have an affect on the children's life in the community and school, but also on the playing field while they are participating in a sport.

     Fair Play for Kids incorporates fair play principles; including respect for rules and others, and self-control, into all classroom settings (Gibbons, Ebbeck, & Weiss, 1995).  This emphasizes respect for rules, officials, and opponents, along with, the right of all to participants to play and the importance of self-control (Gill & Williams, 2008).
     Personal-social responsibility model will also be used.  This model emphasizes; (a) the teaching of life skills must be integrated with the teaching of physical activity, (b) lessons learned on the playing field must be taught in a way that kids can apply to other aspects of life, (c) teaching strategies must gradually shift responsibility from the program leader to the participants, and (d) the program leader must respect the capacity and ability of the participants to make decisions (Gill & Williams, 2008).  This model give the students the opportunities to feel empowered, purposeful, and connected to others as well as to experience responsible behavior, persevere, and acknowledge activities that impinge upon others' rights.
Hellison's cumulative progression model uses goals or levels, six levels, are used to represent the progression of the student throughout the model. Level zero represents the student's inability to follow rules, make excuses, and blame others for what they do or fail to do. Gradually progressing to level V which is defined as the students are able to play level zero to level IV in life outside the playing field (Gill & Williams, 2008).

     For my after school program, the students will follow a progression system using the six defined levels of Hellison's progression model.  Each student will start out at level zero, where we will focus on the goal of learning to respect officials and others.  This stage my take time to progress out of.  Students that are use to not following rules and blaming others for their mistakes will have a difficult time breaking these habits.  By us focusing on having the same expectations towards everyone, our point of respect should develop steadily over time, which will allow this kids to learn to responsibilities and importance of showing respect towards superiors on and off the field.  Especially on the field when dealing with officials, we have little to no control over what officials decide upon, however, we can focus on the how the children will respond and react when adversity, not in their favor is thrown their direction.  As the students learn to respect officials, the next steps in to represent respect towards the opponent.  Once again, we need to focus on the things we can control, our aggression and behavior towards others.  We cannot control how our opponent will respond to adversity directed towards our children, however, we can control how we respond.  By placing a focus on this aspect, there could be a shift in our opponents behavior (Park, 2004).  As our students and athletes progress from no control to controlling themselves at all times, they will have reached the final level, level IV.  At this stage, the students should be able to maintain control over their aggression and behavior at all times, whether it's on or off the field.  Our overall goal with this program isn't only for these students to show respect on the field but to be able to control their behavior off the field in life itself.  this "growth" of respect and control will assist them in the abilities to lower the acts of violence and aggressive behavior after school.  Keeping our youths "nose clean" will take them further in life then they understand at their age.  The sooner we can teach and develop these skills through sport and physical activity, something of enjoyment in a sense, the sooner they can progress to maturity and understand the importance of these skills throughout life.

    The development of respect and control of behavior is a crucial aspect for these kids to mature in sport and life.  By using the steps, goals or levels, of the Hellison's prgression model, we are able to identify the progression of the students.  These goals or levels give the students something to work towards.  Developing respect for others and superiors as well as not making excuse or blaming others for what they do or fail to do.  they can progress throughout the levels unit they are able to control their behavior and show respect at all times.  Our overall goal of this program is to get kids off the streets to limit the acts of violence and aggressive behavior as well as learn and develop skills that will carry over to life off the field.  By implementing the development of these skills through sport and physical activity, they are able to develop these skills in an environment that is enjoyable and fun.

Gibbons, S. L., Ebbeck, V., & Weiss, M. R. (1995). Fair Play for Kids: Effects on the moral development of children in physical education. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 66(3), 247-255.

Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Park, N. (2004). Character strengths and positive youth development. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 591(1), 40.