No-Nonesense?: Annual Dodgeball Tournament Cancelled

Lauren Pino, Reporter

I had been in Spanish classes since second grade, so I never got a chance to yell “Battez-vous, le français!” or “Deutsche gewinnen!” during the much anticipated dodge ball tournament between the French and German classes. I always thought that the tournament was a cool way to get students excited about taking non-Spanish World Language courses, but this year, I was surprised to find out that the fun event had been cancelled.

The recent enforcement of “no-nonsense” JAG time is the culprit. Administrators see the tournament as a waste of “academic enrichment time.” The tournament is not a necessity for students, and it takes away from time better spent finishing homework or daydreaming away in your JAG class with nothing to do.

The JAG time restrictions have never been truly appreciated by the full student body, and with the cancellation of this practically traditional event, it brings a whole new focus to the limits of JAG time and to the administration’s views on what is “academic enrichment.”

I know many outstanding students who have the required grades that guarantee them freedom from mandatory study halls and who have no tests or assignments that they need to complete. I watch, as they sit in JAG, doing nothing “With A Purpose.” They soon move on to talking and that can disturb other students working hard. If they are simply lowering the quality of this academic enrichment time, there is no reason for them to be there. However, it is not like there are any other activities that are considered true “academic enrichment” that they can do.

With the French-German dodge ball tournament, students had an activity to attend and to enrich themselves with, but the administrators believe it is not enrichment. Yet, on the contrary, it truly is. The tournament applies learning the French and German languages to an active setting.  Sitting in a classroom day after day cannot make students fully experience language learning. Learning involves passive and active parts. Science can be taught from books, but understanding its concepts can best be demonstrated in a laboratory setting. Reading about magnesium creating a bright light when burned is very different than watching as the metal burns like a blinding sun.

The tournament also fosters excitement in learning a world language. For most teenagers, reading textbooks is not the most enjoyable thing.  When people tell others what their favorite class is, they never say, “I found the textbook quite informative.” They say things like, “I like Drafting because I like working with computers,” or “I like art because I like creating things.” Participating in an activity that gets students up-close-and-personal with the topic is instrumental in getting them to be enthusiastic about that topic.  Language learning is the same way. The tournament pits the two languages metaphorically against each other, placing students in an environment of language learning that makes them want to learn.

Enrichment is defined by as the act of “endow[ing] with fine or desirable qualities” and/or “improv[ing] in quality.” I cannot see why the tournament is not academic enrichment. It endows language learning with the desirable qualities of being fun and creative.  It improves the quality of student involvement in their world language education. The event may not end with students being able to ace a test of a certain topic, but it does enrich a student’s learning experience, which by definition is indeed “academic enrichment.”

Learning and academic enrichment have almost infinite manifestations, but the administration considers there to be limitations to what is learning and what is academic enrichment. The French and German classes’ dodge ball tournament was deemed to not be an augmentation of learning and met its demise, but to me, there are basically no real grounds to dismiss the event as a waste of time.