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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Fostering Creative Movement and Critical Thinking Through Parkour at Concordia
By Andrei Ghicu 20-Jun-19
Parkour is an activity that involves moving rapidly through an area, negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing (photo: Concordia). __________________________________________________________________________ At Concordia International School Shanghai, we aim to provide the best education for our students in order to prepare them to respond to 21st-century realities through an internationally minded approach. This is a philosophy that we seek to implement in every subject and activity we teach. In the winter of 2018–19, the physical education (PE) program began offering parkour for students up to Grade 4. If you’re not familiar with this activity, it involves moving rapidly through an area and swiftly negotiating obstacles by running, jumping, and climbing. Almost immediately, our students embraced this new physical activity and challenged themselves to learn new ways to use specific skills while making split-second decisions. As a result, our students have grown to think more critically while having fun and taking very personalized risks. We observed that after just six weeks devoted to exploring parkour daily, students can perform stunning moves on the equipment by going under, over, jumping, and landing at a very high speeds, all while being safe and having fun. There are many benefits to participating in proper parkour classes at any age level. These challenging courses require extreme focus and open-mindedness. This approach to movement promotes personal goal setting based on one’s individual abilities, rather than fostering competition among students. The types of moves that are utilized in parkour and free-running range from very basic to very complex and include balancing, walking, jumping, running, rolling, swinging, climbing, and twisting. It’s a fun, engaging, and motivating type of exercise, which targets a holistic approach to learning, rather than isolated types of physical activity. When we introduced parkour as a subject at Concordia, we had hoped that it would foster trans-disciplinary, cross-division partnerships and that, as a result, we would be able to provide an even greater wealth of opportunities and experiences for our students. It is wonderful now to see that our hopes are beginning to take shape. Recently, in a cross-disciplinary, integrated project, Grade 8 teachers and students decided to link some of the learning gained in a humanities class on journalism with experiences offered through the health and PE program. This partnership engaged students in a parkour lesson using equipment designed specifically for that purpose. Following this exercise, they wrote experience-informed essays about their new perspectives on the ways in which physical activity impacts our lives. As a teacher, listening to student comments during the parkour sessions, I was awed by the way their minds naturally embraced new knowledge and understanding. While interacting with one another, students were able to make connections between sports and other disciplines, ultimately developing their cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills. Andrei Ghicu is elementary school health and physical education teacher at Concordia International School Shanghai.
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