The World Cup as a teaching aid

THE much-anticipated World Cup fever seems to be in full effect already. The euphoria around Africa’s first World Cup is too much to contain. With six African representatives, nice World Cup theme songs like ‘Waving Flag’ by the Somali born K’Naan, Shakira’s adulteration of ‘Waka waka’ and the constant Vuvuzela sound, its quite impossible to ignore this 2010 FIFA World Cup.

THE much-anticipated World Cup fever seems to be in full effect already. The euphoria around Africa’s first World Cup is too much to contain. With six African representatives, nice World Cup theme songs like ‘Waving Flag’ by the Somali born K’Naan, Shakira’s adulteration of ‘Waka waka’ and the constant Vuvuzela sound, its quite impossible to ignore this 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The games are making it so hard for people to concentrate on anything else lately. It’s not rare for your neighbour in a commuter taxi to ask you the score between Ivory Coast and Portugal instead of the time.

I have even noticed that some people leave office at lunchtime and sit outside Nakumatt just to catch the first game of the day—that is usually played at 1:30 p.m local time.

At this rate, you cannot expect the school system not to be affected by this global football frenzy as both students and teachers are keen to follow the events in South Africa.

This could sure have a negative impact on the students’ performance. Some are sleeping late after watching the last game of the day and then go on to spend the following day regurgitating the previous day’s match with their peers.

As a result, studies end up relegated to the back seat as football takes the steering wheel of students’ programmes. With the games lasting a full month, this trend can really prove to be a huge academic cost on the part of the students especially those in candidate classes.

However, a smart and creative teacher can tactfully use the World Cup to score some academic goals. The games can indeed provide a teacher with what is technically known as, a ‘teachable’ moment.

It is not a secret that most of our students are ignorant about world affairs. Apart from East Africa, United States, United Kingdom, France and Belgium, many cannot tell you the capital city of several countries. This is partly due to the poor reading culture and an unexplainable absence of curiosity.

A smart teacher can use this World Cup to ignite an interest in current affairs among the students and to teach Geography as well. For example, drawing from the interest the games have attracted, a teacher can ask the class to name the 32 countries that are taking part in the World Cup.

Since these countries cover the vast extent of the world, it can go a long way in helping students understand their world better. Students should be able to tell which countries are representing Africa. Also, the history of South Africa can be extracted or taught using the World Cup as a template.

Do your students know what apartheid is and when it ended? Do they know how long Nelson Mandela was in prison? Do they know that Pretoria and not Johannesburg is the capital city of South Africa?

If they do not, then there is no better time for them to get enlightened than now.  Sticking to the World Cup theme, a wise teacher should try asking students about each of the 32 countries at the games. What do the students know about them? Can they tell you the president of a particular country, its capital city and what it is famous for?

Geography teachers should harness this chance to help their students know more about world geography. Language teachers can ask the students to write compositions about the teams they support and why they support them.

More so, a creative Mathematics teacher can divide the class according to the teams in the tournament and then give them mathematics problems to solve with the winning ‘team’ receiving a token World Cup trophy!

Teachers should tap into this soccer frenzy in order to keep the academic train moving on track. By the time the final game is played, your students should be a smarter. 

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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