One of the great joys of teaching in New Zealand schools is a programme called jump jam.
It’s an aerobics programme that mixes catchy popular music with kid appropriate aerobic moves. A huge number of schools back in the land of the long white cloud use Jump Jam in the morning to get kids moving before they start their day.
As part of a Unit of Inquiry into making health choices, I put on some Jump Jam videos for the kids to enjoy before ‘learning time’ officially begins. At first many of the children, especially the soccer-mad boys, were hesitant to take risks.
Silently waiting for peer approval I realized I had a problem. I went in search of songs from the soccer World Cup told the kids how the French Rugby team joined some of the classes at my gym when I lived in New Zealand.
All to little interest.
Then I found a video that a group of boys had recorded of an all male jump jam and the boys were in.
As the unit went on, the boys’ enjoyment increased. A number of parents remarked how impressed they were that their sons were dancing for enjoyment. A few went out and did a flashmob for the primary school.
Away from the judgement of the older boys, my students moved for enjoyment of the younger ones.
A sure sign of the success is that the class is still bopping along long after we were officially finished with the unit.
It saddens me how quickly boys turn their noses up at so many fun activities due to a perceived hint of girliness. The boys are not at fault there merely reflecting the society in which they live.
I can’t change the big forces outside the classroom, but I can give my students joyous experiences to counter those narratives.
The rest is up to them…