I’m a physical education specialist. I work with young children. We spend time on a number of things. Sure, we work on movement skills – skipping, jogging, galloping, dodging, and so on. But much more of our time and energy flows into negotiating the vissitudes of the human condition. We’re a collection of several individuals. We want things, often different things. We have different ways of trying to satisfy our needs. We like some things but would prefer to avoid others. I say “we” because it is as true for the students as it is for me as the teacher.
When I introduce a game, it requires a remarkable amount of energy. With my words and movements, I try to paint a picture of what they can expect, what they’ll be trying to achieve and where other players may try to prevent that. It’s complicated. Regardless how simple the game may be, it is a complicated process because it involves young humans with very distinct understandings of the world and of what I’ve just tried to convey. They may be hearing the same words but understanding and responding to a variety of possible messages.
I think and perhaps they think we’re learning how to play a game. Yes, and. Yes we are learning how to play a game and how to get along with others, how to recognize and respect boundaries and how to practice fairness and how to tolerate confusion and uncertainty and how to be oneself in the midst of all that.
It’s never “just a game.” What we are doing every step of the way, too, is navigating the game – messy, complicated, compelling, exciting, bubbling: life.