I want to start out by saying that this is not aimed towards all schools or teachers. There are many wonderful teachers and schools who are doing amazing work in shaping the lives of tomorrows future. This article is about the ignorant teachers and principals that let their personal opinions stand in the way of what is in the best interest for the students. It’s sad to see some schools deny their students opportunities that can lead to wonderful opportunities and achievements in their futures.
We have heard it before, skating is not a sport. No, it is not a school sanctioned sport, but that does mean it is not sport. I strongly believe that although it is not a school sanctioned sport, students who figure skate should get the same rights as students who play sanctioned sports. Students in volleyball, track, basketball, etc are allowed to leave school in order to attend meets and events. Depending on the teachers and principals, figure skaters are not so lucky to have that privilege. By not allowing students to leave for non school sanctioned sporting events, what is that teaching us about being different and going for your dreams? It is like telling the students you have the option of being a scientist, mathematician, geographer or english teacher because that is all they teach at school. Anything else is not allowed. Students should have the option to be whatever they want to be and play whatever sports they want to play even if the school doesn’t offer that sport.
I have seen it in schools and experienced it myself (and fought tooth and nail to overturn the ruling) that skaters are not allowed to leave for competitions or extra training. Some teachers and principals understand and allow it and I commend and appreciate those who do. Those who deny it; however, I am disgusted by. Teachers have a huge influence on a students life. I distinctly remember, and always will, the two (yes only 2 from grade 1-12) that believed in me and supported my skating. If a student is learning in your class and achieving good grades, why should they not be allowed to leave? I understand not allowing the child to leave school if their grades are failing, but if their grades are high then what is the harm? Letting them attend their event not only allows them to do what they love, but it will also teach them about time management, balance, and independence. If they are away and not in school, they still need to finish their homework and study on their own. Balancing skating and school together is quite an accomplishment and they should be rewarded instead of punished for it. Teacher or no teacher, anyone that denies a child a chance to better themselves should be ashamed.
I can guarantee that if a student makes it to the Olympics or if they get any name recognition in their sport all of a sudden their school is proud and supports them. When it comes to actually putting in the time and training the athlete only gets flak and the school makes it difficult for them. It is only when they are successful that certain schools want to share in their success.
If you are dealing with non supportive teachers or principals, do not let it affect you’re skating or hold you back from your dreams. Voice your concerns and problems you are having. Plan a meeting with the superintendent, attend school board meetings, have your coach speak with your principal or teachers. Do anything and everything you can in order to address the situation. You can also look into independent studies in school so you will not have to associate with any teacher that is giving you difficulty. Just because a teacher is stubborn about their opinion doesn’t mean it should or can prevent you from furthering you’re skating.
Teachers and schools have a huge impact on a students life. I am deeply bitter towards school and many of the teachers who taught me growing up. How they acted and the things they said towards not believing in my skating, that it wasn’t a sport, I was wasting my time, etc was just plain wrong. I am now coaching students who are facing the same challenges and to see them having to struggle through it is incredibly painful. I had the mindset to prove everyone wrong, but there are many students out there who will not be that strong and will give up instead. Teachers can either make or break an athletes future. Don’t let your teacher hold you back from following your dreams.