In an article written by Hilary Levy Friedman, After-School Activities Make Educational Inequality Even Worse, Friedman discusses an aspect of inequality that I personally had never considered, after school activities. Friedman shares that in a world where most after school activities are pay for play, the benefits that are afforded to kids through these experiences, are only accessible for some. She goes on to describe very important life skills that can be honed through the involvement of after school competitive activities such as, the importance of winning and having a desire to win and the lessons learned from loss. She interviews parents who describe a method to the madness that competitive sports is sometimes viewed. Skills like time management, adaptability and grace under pressure, as Friedman describes it, all are being taught outside of the classroom, but have direct correlations with personal success in school and in life. So what happens when you can not afford to play? How are these skills introduced, practiced, and mastered? Is the real divide between the haves and the have-nots happening on the field instead of in the classroom?
As I embark on this journey of raising my son, and hopefully one day sons and daughter, I will enter into the world of after school competitive activities with an enlightened perspective. While I have often argued with my husband about whether or not the word need should be attached to our son’s future participation in certain sports (ie, football). I will now step back an exam this participation with new lenses. Not only are these activities helpful, but maybe even…necessary? I will also lean on the need to be grateful that my child will have the opportunity, simply to participate. While his father and I are far from rich, we are blessed with income earning potential that will afford our kids a good life. How many of their friends will sit home on Saturday morning game days or for weeknight practices? Instead of looking at these future experiences begrudgingly because our son may or may not play my sport of choice (I’ll just say it, football scares the heck out of me. I’m crossing my fingers that he prefers tennis or golf. Mommy woes.). I will instead focus on helping him get the life lessons and understanding the need to appreciate the opportunity to play.
Friedman, Hilary Levey