Life Skills Curriculum in Action: Respect for Women
At the heart of LtN’s mission to use lacrosse as a conduit for change in education is the Life Skills Curriculum. This unique set of four units connects a particular lacrosse skill with life lessons—helping to link the learning of a sport in class to life outside of school.
In August, while visiting the programs with volunteers, I was able to be witness to the teaching of a lesson throughout an entire week. During three practices at Club Hope, Coaches Norman and Miguel began a weeklong lesson on, “Respect for Women.”
This may seem an odd topic for 4th graders and up. However, LtN’s curriculum is based upon the needs of the students we serve. Nicaragua has a prevalent culture of “machismo,” revealing itself in an overwhelming cultural attitude that men are more powerful than women. Because of this, both Coaches aimed to teach and reinforce the idea that men and women are equals—on the lacrosse field, in school, and at home.
During the week’s first class, Coach Norman and Coach Miguel began after-school lacrosse by presenting the week’s lesson on “Respeto a Los Mujeres” (Respect for Women.) They asked the co-ed group questions about why respecting women was important. Quite shy in the beginning, answers began to emerge. Students talked from their own experience, mostly about their own mothers and sisters. Some discussed the importance of being kind. The coaches were encouraging of each response; ultimately landing on the idea women deserved respect because they are no different than men.
To reinforce this idea through lacrosse, the group was broken into two scrimmage teams. The game was played normally, except for one rule: Only girls could score goals.
After class, the Coaches asked the group of what they thought of the rule. Some boys felt it unfair; feeling like anyone should score if they can. The Coaches reminded everyone that this was all part of showing that girls can do whatever boys can.
The following day, Coach Norman and Miguel again began the class discussing the week’s lesson. It was great to see the students pick up on the concepts right where we had left off the previous day. Some even expressed that “Respect for Women” is important because “somos mismos” (We are the same.)
The group was broken into the same scrimmage teams, with the same rule of only goals scoring in place. It was great to see the students not fight against the rule, but rather support and encourage their female teammates to score!
On the last day of the lesson, Norman and Miguel asked all the students questions about how they can respect women in school and in the community. In every unit, the coach’s always make sure to remind the kids that these lessons are important both on and off the field. Students shared thoughts on treating people with kindness, not fighting, including others and being good members of class and community.
For the final round of scrimmages, it was boys vs. girls! By creating this scenario, the coaches were making a statement to all that each and every player, regardless of sex, could compete. It was awesome to see the girls so excited to take on the boys—with no fear!
Class ended with all students in a circle. The coaches asked all the girls to share what they liked about the game. They then asked each boy to share what they liked about how the girls played. Finally, they asked the whole group to cheer for Rosanna– the only girl who had been to every lacrosse class in the past month!