Interview with Sergio Diaz Gonzalez, Secondary Physical Education Teacher in Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

Sergio was another Spanish participant of the English language teacher development program I led this past week.  He has been teaching for over nine years at the secondary level, specifically instructing for three years in English.  We had a nice conversation about the challenges of teaching teenagers, and what role sports play in the social and character development of young girls.  

Some thoughts from Sergio:

"Sport in the United States is different from Spain.  In the US it is all a show, a your popcorn and drink to sit and watch a match.  In Spain, no.  In Spain, it is much more passionate. You go to the match to feel the spirit in your heart."

"Physical conditioning, aerobics, dance and acrobatic/circus programs are offered for young girls in my physical education program."

"I train a basketball team after school, and we do not have any girls in the club.  They don't want to play.  They don't practice sports.  Some girls do athletics like swimming, but team sports, no. There are 30,000 people in my town, and there are no female teams."

"The education system should offer more sport opportunities for all children.  It would be better for children to practice one sport for one full year on a team.  It is important for them to belong to a [positive] group."

"In Spain, the girl who is really good at sports is considered like a boy, like a chicazo (tomboy).  To be aggressive, like a sport woman, very competitive that's not good for females.  That's not good because what are other people going to say, going to think about that girl? That's not feminine.  In sports and in life. Maybe an aggressive and competitive, intelligent woman frightens some men here in Spain. Maybe she knows too much, and it's hard to be with that type of girl."

"Women prefer rhythmic activities, not contact sports.  My job is to teach activities that students can practice on their free time, in order to stay in shape; not to be competitive.  Students solve tactical problems, look for solutions when playing two on twos, they must know how to develop a training session, how to build a workout for a month or two month period."

"Four components of fitness: Strength, endurance, flexibility and speed." 
(What about body composition?  Less focus on obesity in Spain???)  

"Body Composition is covered in another unit.."
Units: Anatomy and Physiology of body parts [organs], muscles, bones, 
           Cardiorespiratory System
           Central Nervous System
           Training Theory

"In the first course of Bachillerato when they are 17, students must combine all that they have learned from the previous year and prepare their own training program ."

"Smoking is very cultural here in Spain, especially when you are 14 or 15.  It makes you feel older, like a man, not a young boy.  But now, times are changing here in Spain.  Many people have decided not to smoke because they know it is awful for their health.  The laws make it inconvenient (no longer able to smoke inside restaurants and bars)."

"Teachers and parents are the enemies of teenagers.  The friends who are close in age are their confidants.   Teenagers must present the information to their peers about unhealthy habits (smoking, drinking, doping, drugs) in order to get the message across.  They build their own notes for their exam.  I don't tell them what to do.  Their friends tell them what to do." 

When asking Sergio about professional development, he explained an approach that sounds so foreign in our technology-driven society:

"I meet with other colleagues in town for a coffee, or in the teacher resource center at our local university.  I meet face to face with other Physical Education professionals to discuss better teaching strategies.  During university I got the most help from my old Physical Education teachers."

"There is a special feeling between Physical Education teachers that is unique to our field."

"Normally the student who is the bully is a problematic boy.  They most likely come from a family where the parents have problems.  Behind a boy with problems usually are parents with problems.  The parents normally come to school to speak with the principal and special counselor to deal with the problems of the boy." (Interesting how he kept using 'boy', and not 'student'). 

"The boy with problems may be changed to a different school.  But that doesn't solve the problem. That just sends the problem to another place.  Maybe it is good for the boy to find new friends, and a new environment where he can change.  His motivation might change, but normally, it's not the solution."

"We don't have that type of violence [guns] in schools.   We don't see it on the streets either.  Although with new immigrants coming to Spain with guns from Colombia, Latin America who work with drugs, times are changing from ten years ago.  But Spanish people don't use guns.  You can't just go into a store and buy one.  You need a special license, the police controls its use, the government controls its use.  It's not impossible, but very difficult to buy guns on the street. The main problems with education in Spain are in the big cities; Madrid and Barcelona.  Sometimes students bring knives (no guns) to school. But our schools don't have metal detectors or police officers.  Fortunately, we only see that in American movies."

"Sometimes parents don't care if their child is getting bad grades or not studying.  They are much more worried if their child is behaving and being respectful.  Many older Spaniards do not have a degree, and have lived a nice life working with their hands in the countryside.  They believe their children can find opportunities without education, but not without manners.  All of that is changing now though, with the economic crisis.  There are four times as many young people studying in night school now than last year, and more education is needed for the bigger cities."

"[In 2011] the money you have and the money you show are two different things.  But money still moves the world.  It was more difficult during the years of Franco.  Franco friends had a lot of power and money, and the rest of the people worked for them and suffered for them.  During this time, the society levels were more firmly established."

"We have a responsibility to help our students stay on the right path, and discourage them from turning to violence and drugs.  Our future happiness depends on it."

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