A few years ago when I was teaching in a middle school resource room, I noticed how many lacrosse sticks were leaning in the corner (I was a sucker for letting students store stuff that didn’t fit in their lockers in my room). Why were so many LD/ADHD boys (the majority of my students) playing lacrosse?
At first, I thought it was the coach; he was a true charismatic. However, the draw of lacrosse remained even when the coaching staff changed. Why? I attended a couple of their practices and a quite a few games to see if I could figure out the appeal. What was it about lacrosse that attracted these boys?
After more primary research (interviews with my students) I came to a conclusion. There wasn’t anything special about lacrosse. Instead, it was the timing. See, most of the middle school kids were soccer players. Many of them were obsessed with soccer, playing on two or three teams at a time. Soccer culture starts early here in NC, with some kids joining Soccer Tots at 18months old! By the time they are six or seven years old, these kids have developed some serious skills. At this age, the developmentally delayed child may still be learning to run without falling along with mastering left and right. The soccer teams quickly leave such kids behind.
Lacrosse, on the other hand, isn’t available around here until children are eleven or twelve years old. By that time, the kids with developmental delays have mastered the skills they were still struggling with at age five (that’s why we call them delays, btw). Lacrosse puts everyone on an even playing field.
The challenge is, how do we continue to provide opportunities to level the field at multiple places in school? There are so many times that we need to provide a new entry point for students. Development is one reason; increased maturity and changes in affinities are others.
I am starting to believe that a project based program of study can do this better than any other model of curriculum. As I delve into the world of PBL (Educon 2.2 here I come!) I expect I’ll write more about that. I would welcome any suggestions or comments about where to look for further learning.