Football Hooligans

Trip Start Jun 03, 2006
Trip End Jun 03, 2009

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Flag of China  ,
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

This year has taught me just how important and powerful facilitating things for teenage kids can be. They will endlessly surprise you and entertain you if you point them in the right direction. Of course they can be massively frustrating for reasons of your own making and also that are nothing to do with you, but I can confidently say that learning to become a better teacher has given me a lot of pleasure. It's all about giving the students the opportunity to do things within an appropriate framework - or so I thought
Every week, the lads are happy to play football with me and we usually end up having a match with the staff from the middle school or primary school. These games invariably become niggly and foul plagued, but nobody seems to mind much. After all, anyone who ever saw Kes, or had the likes of Chris Challis as a Games Master will know that teachers hate losing to students.  What I never thought I'd see would be teachers actually stopping students from playing because it wasn't, "a proper game."
Every week, our opponents turn up late and with 14 or 15 of us waiting, I split us into a whites versus colours game of the type that is played the world over. We were playing football, unwinding after a day in the classroom and having a bit of fun. 2 or 3 of our opponents arrived and so the obvious thing to do is to split them between the existing teams and carry on playing.  Of course it is... No it isn't! The arrogant, stupid little men decided to stop the game because it wasn't between their team and ours and they couldn't possibly play with the opposition. They kicked the kids out of one of the goal mouths so they could play with each other.  We actually had teachers stopping the kids playing football on a football pitch during leisure time because it didn't suit the teachers. So much for facilitation!
You will appreciate that this is the polite version of this story. What I really thought at the time is pretty much unprintable, but most of the anger wore off in the course o the game.  Most of all, I feel pity for the students who are being taught anything by such a blinkered set of individuals.  People ask me why the Chinese national football team is so bad, and you have the answer right here - it's not ok for a bunch of kids to kick a ball around, because it doesn't fit with some pre-ordained script prescribing the way in which this activity may be conducted. Sometimes I have to write differences of attitude and behaviour off to the very different cultural values in China, but this quite frankly is just #@&&@(+$!
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