Kids Running Education

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of watching my oldest daughter compete with her cross-country team in a 5k race at a local park. The race was difficult for even the most experienced runners. The course wound through the woods on unkempt trails that appeared to be all up hill. It was a cold, miserable, October day that surprised us all with a quick snowstorm during the awards ceremony. The cider and doughnuts had long outworn their delightfulness of a well-deserved fall treat for the runners as we all were pelted with snow.

However, in all of the excitement of the race, the thrill of young and old braving Mother Nature, I couldn’t help but notice something amazing, no precious, that was seemingly missed by most of the spectators. The last place finisher.

This man, probably in his 50’s, made me check my excuse for not running, finished around 8+ minutes after everyone. While I do not know the exact physical “disadvantage” he was challenged with, it was obvious that he suffered from sort of muscular disease; regardless, he pushed on. In fact, the able-bodied adults that stood on the sidelines might be the disadvantaged ones!

At this point, the majority had left the finish line to enjoy the fall refreshments of local cider. Admittedly, I did not know that there were any runners left as the parents from my daughter’s school celebrated our children’s success. It was the unprompted cheering from our children 100 yards away that caught my attention. In fact it caught everyone’s attention!

The entire cross-country team had run back to accompany this gentleman and run beside him for the last leg of the race and cheer him on!

I was speechless as were most of the other adults in the area. We had to process what was happening and then join in cheering as we understood that there was one more runner and that we had selfishly celebrated while a group of 9 to 12 year olds knew what was the right thing to do.

This made me wonder if this was a credit to the culture of their school or if it was the kids themselves, just being kids, teaching us how to act, or was it how they were raised? It could be a combination of all of the above. I know this though, I have seen kids more often then adults act selfless, it comes second nature. After all not one adult in a crowd of several hundred took the initiative to make sure this man was ok, let alone run back 100 yards to cheer him on.

As we (adults) argue about what education should be, the tests, the “standards,” and the regulations, we might want to look to the children that we think we are going to educate. Children want to learn, and do so through natural instinct; they could teach us a thing or two.

I believe that all the knowledge we need is already possessed in our minds waiting to be drawn out. After all the Latin word for educate is “Educare” which means, “To draw out that which lies within”!