June 24, 2009

The Swimmers’ Obligation

Filed under: edtech,education,necc,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 9:08 am

Few of us remember the first time we jumped into water over our heads.

I do not recall figuring out that I could not swim. I do not remember discovering the power of  water. I try to imagine how it felt.  I could not get my feet to touch the bottom at the same time as I opened my mouth to gasp above the surface, and I had no idea what to do about it.  But some kind parent or bigger person reached under my armpits and supported me, laughing and congratulating me for a great jump. He or she likely placed my hands on the pitted concrete of the pool’s edge and told me to “kick big kicks and blow big bubbles.” Trusting, I must have done so, because eventually I learned to swim.

Swim coaches describe a knack their best swimmers have to “feel the water.” Watch the good ones: the feel, the ease, the awareness. Witness their flips, their streamlines as they push off walls, the faces they make to keep water out of their noses during those quick flipturns.

Water is not a natural place for human beings, but we can gain a feel for it. Some gain it faster that others, but even the nervous child who falls in by mistake will learn to move about using a comfortable stroke to get where he wants to go, given the right encouragement and support.The swimmers among us owe our time and support to those less comfortable so everyone can find a “feel” for the water. Stop and try to recall the panic you felt at falling in. Remember watching your child or a neighbor who genuinely believed that he/she would NEVER be able to move through water. Think about those you know (maybe it’s you) who swim only with their faces OUT of the water, safe and dry. Their head-out style wastes energy,  but it is what they know. They can change it, but each one’s needs will be different and each will require encouragement, time, and a chance to “feel” the water.

As we go to NECC, edtech-swimmers all, we should remember the swimmers’ obligation to share the feel of the water and find ways to make it part of our “swim practice.”


1 Comment

  1. […] And those of you not here ask, “who cares?” I tell you about this as another example of the swimmers’ obligation. […]

    Pingback by Think Like a Teacher » Nearly drowned: Tweeting at BreakNECC speed — July 1, 2009 @ 7:34 am

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