21.01.2020 The same level of motivation

At first hand. I can still remember how we used to be divided into two teams to play dodgeball in PE classes. Two captains took turns to pick their teams, and always left the children who weren’t very good at sport till last, only picking them – much to the disgruntlement of the other team members – when there was no one else left. There can be no doubt that being one of the first to be picked gave a tremendous sense of validation, while always being picked last was demotivating.

Pictures The same level of motivation


This example is symbolic of many other situations in schools that exacerbate inequality of opportunity rather than seeking to balance it out. Equality of opportunity aims to even out inherent imbalances such as physical fitness or background – and offer everyone an appropriate perspective and corresponding development opportunities. I see equality of opportunity primarily as an entitlement to the same level of motivation, encouragement and recognition.

I don’t know whether PE class teams are still picked the way they used to be. However, the figures show that there is still a long way to go until the imbalances have been levelled out to some extent. It is still the case that children from financially less well off or poorly educated families are significantly less likely to enjoy good health, for example because their parents cannot afford to pay for membership of the local sports club. As a result, the children may constantly leave PE lessons feeling demotivated.

School teaching staff give children and young people a range of skills to carry them through life in good health. The aim is to boost resources, train resilience and learn to cope with various burdens. However, it is also important to make it clear that a person’s value is not measured in terms of their performance and productivity. And it is just as important to promote values such as respect, friendliness and honesty – a task that schools cannot fulfil single-handedly.


Andrea Arz de Falco
Vice Director and Head of the Public Health Directorate

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