Lessons from the world of sports: #8 The rule of celebration

I said at the start of this mini-series that I would be exploring the lessons we in the educational ICT community can learn from sports – but here is #8! Well, I’ve always said that there are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who can’t! Anyway, here’s what I have called the ‘rule of celebration’.

Create reasons for celebration (hough maybe without the bubbly!)Just think: millions of people all over the world have just spent two weeks at events or on the edge of their sofa shouting for their team to win! What struck me and many of the people I know is the amount of camaraderie there was between people from different countries, ie rivals.

Also, in the Tour de France, the Olympics and other sporting events, team members work together for the greater good. For example, in the Tour de France, the British team members all worked together to help ensure that Bradley Wiggins won.

And what everyone enjoyed was the great sense of fun and celebration after the events.

Could any of this be useful for teachers of ICT/education technology?

I think so. In my opinion and experience there is nothing like a well-run competition to give students a sense of purpose, a lot of fun and an experience of the value of team-work.

There are lots of student-centred competitions around, as a quick search on the web will indicate – I’ve cited seven below to give you an idea of what’s out there.

Examples of Competitions and competition pages

Create your own

You can also easily create and run a competition in-house, with varying levels of complexity, such as:

  • Individual student competitions, eg a prize for the best idea for an app, or the best 5 minute presentation.
  • Class competitions, eg divide each class into teams of 4 or 5 students, and award a prize for the team which produces the best video on a particular theme.
  • Whole year competitions, eg as for the class competitions but involving more students at the same time, and possibly with classes competing against other classes.

Things to think about:

  • Running a competition usually involves an investment of effort and time. Therefore, it needs to address the skills you would be teaching anyway, otherwise you will never be able to “sell” the idea to anyone – including the students themselves.
  • The more complex the competition, the more co-operation you will need from colleagues and others. I realise that this is an obvious thing to say, but it needs to be thought about from the start. There’s a lot of difference between running a competition that involves one class for one or two lessons, and running a competition that involves taking a whole year group off timetable for a day.
  • What outside input will you need? For example, do any of the parents have useful skills and experience? Would a local business be prepared to judge the entries? Will you need sponsorship, eg for prizes or publicity?
  • On the subject of prizes, what would be both appropriate and affordable?


I’ve run or been otherwise involved in several competitions, ranging from in-class, through whole Year groups, national competitions and international competitions. They have all proven invaluable in enhancing the curriculum or scheme of work, enabling students to put their understanding and skills into practice for a particular purpose and for strengthening relationships – not only between students, but also between students and teachers. I definitely recommend that you consider running or getting involved in one yourself.

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