The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Dodgeball!

When I was a kid in school, we never played dodgeball. At least, we never played a game that my phys. ed. teachers called dodgeball. As a matter of fact, we played two different forms of the game: bombardment (which is the fairly standard way of playing) and four-corner dodgeball (oh, the word was in there, but the emphasis was placed on the “four-corner” bit). Oddly enough, I never knew that the game we knew as “bombardment” was actually dodgeball. You see, there was a lengthy period of time during which it was considered improper for elementary students to play dodgeball. The game was unfair, unsafe, and unproductive.

By the time I made it to college, I had been thoroughly versed in the pedagogical theory of the evils of dodgeball. When I enrolled in my kinesiology class, we actually spent a considerable amount of time discussing why the game was so awful. I shared with my classmates the four-corner variety, which everyone agreed was more fun for all. (Perhaps I will outline the rules of this version another day.) I recently learned that there are an insanely large number of variations to this game, and the Wikipedia article on the subject does not even begin to give justice to them all. If you are interested, I suggesting finding a local kinesiologist, particularly one who has specialised in children’s kinesiology, and ask them to enlighten you.

Ironically, my first real exposure to a game called “dodgeball” was actually the Vince Vaughn/Ben Stiller movie of the same name. After watching, I realised that the game we played in grade school was essentially the same game, just with larger teams. While there are some elements of the movie that are not appropriate for children, I still find it very funny. It is full of classic lines, such as, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!” Please note: I do not actually support this aggressive pedagogical style.

As a self-contained general education instructor at the elementary level in Urbana, I am responsible for teaching physical education to my class. On our first day, we simply did some basic aerobic exercises and got used to what we are supposed to do in the gym. Yesterday we began some more formal activities. Not knowing all of the resources I have available, and having been begged by my students to let them, I decided to have the class play dodgeball.

The first time we played, they wanted to have the teams be boys against girls. I’m not sure why either team thought this would be fun or fair. The boys in the class tend to be considerably more aggressive, and so they won the game quite quickly. So then I divided the girls at random and the boys at random and then divided them in teams of roughly half boys/half girls. This time, the game went much longer.

Today we continued our exploration of dodgeball. We reviewed the rules, discussed what was and was not acceptable, and I gave the class time to strategise before we started. I don’t know what any of the strategies were, though. The game went on for nearly 45 minutes before we had to wrap up. One of the rules that the students implemented was the way students would be released from being out after being hit or having a ball caught. The first way was if a member of their team caught a ball. The other was if someone on their team hit the basketball backboard on the opposite side of the gym. In both cases, every student on that team who was out would be able to rejoin the game. This was probably the most likely reason for the game carrying on as long as it did.

However, that was exactly my plan. The students were running, throwing, catching, and playing for a long period of time. Several were very sweaty as a result. Nobody tried to sit out or just stand around doing nothing. And everyone was involved in one way or another. I was very impressed with the encouragement offered to fellow team members. I’ve decided that we are going to spend two more days on dodgeball next week before moving on to a different activity. I am hoping to see an increase of sportsmanship, activity, and teamwork. If the past week has been any indicator, I have no doubt my class will rise to the occasion!

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2 responses

  1. I loved dodge ball when I was a tyke in 4th and 5th grades. I can still hear those red rubber balls singing through the air and can still feel their sting on my face. Ah, good times.

    August 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm

  2. I am finding this blog fascinating. Also, I laughed out at the bus stop when I read “Please note: I do not actually support this aggressive pedagogical style.”

    August 26, 2011 at 12:00 am

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