As a young teacher I really thought I knew it all. It was only when it went wrong that I realised…

Once upon a time, as a young inexperienced teacher, I felt I knew it all, and that all my elders and betters were getting staid and stuck in their ways.

So I decided to show them what real innovative, active, modern PE lessons were all about by taking my class outside and telling them to run across the playing field and back, as fast or as slow as they liked.

I had no idea why I said this but it felt modern, different, radical and very much me.

Being a lively and cheeky bunch the class then asked me if there were prizes for the winners and without giving it any thought I said there would be a prize for coming in last. I refrained from saying what the prize was, since I didn’t have any idea.

It didn’t take very long for everyone to realise that I had made a fundamental miscalculation, since the best way to stand a chance of winning was going to be to stand still. Or (when I changed the rules and said everyone had to keep moving forwards towards the winning post) to inch forward at such a slow pace that the race would have taken a week to complete.

Feeling something of a turnip I took the class back inside, noticing the look I was getting from the deputy head on the way back in.

Then suddenly the gods smiled on me. “I want you now to write a story called ‘The silliest race in the world’. It can be about anything except what we have just done.”

And the results were rather good, thus not only extending the children’s creative writing but giving me an explanation of sorts when asked to have a word with the deputy head – who to be fair was a very decent lady who said that she too had tried one or two whacky ideas in earlier days.

It’s not an approach I would recommend, but here’s one that can be quite a good idea. A team race to pick up a set of hoops on the ground with different coloured hoops counting as different values. Both teams go at once… not every child will realise at once the value of picking up the hoops with the biggest value first.

That was the sort of logic my original attempts were missing. I should have used the “50 Brilliant PE Challenges”.

There’s more information and ideas that actually do work at:

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