Legacy of education by decree


        FOR EDUCATION, 1984-2000

A Paper presented to the 2002 IOC Symposium on the
           Legacy of the Olympic Games
              Lausanne, Switzerland
                  November 2002

              By Deanna Binder (PhD)
          Institute for Olympic Education
                Faculty of Education
                University of Alberta

                           The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 1
                            THE LEGACY OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES
                                 FOR EDUCATION, 1984-2000

        More than a hundred years have passed since an idealistic young French educational reformer,
Pierre de Coubertin, began planning for an “Olympic Games” to promote his educational ideas.
Describing the schools of his nation as “abhorrent places,” 1 he believed that sports and games offered a
joyful context within which students could “practice” the physical, intellectual and moral behaviours
required by citizens in a democracy. The first three of the original four aims of the original Olympic
Charter are, in fact, educational aims:
1. To promote the development of those physical and moral qualities which are the basis of sport
2. To educate young people through sport in a spirit of better understanding between each other and of
    friendship, thereby helping to build a better and more peaceful world
3. To spread the Olympic principles throughout the world, thereby creating international goodwill
        This paper is an attempt to examine the education legacy of the Olympic Games not only from
the perspective of the pedagogical mission of Pierre de Coubertin as articulated in the Olympic Charter,
but also from the perspective of current theories of curriculum development and educational
implementation. You have already heard about many other kinds of legacies of Olympic Games,
including legacies for sport development and coaching. If, as the dictionary suggests, education is the
process of “being led”⎯from the Latin word educare meaning “to lead,” then these are also educational
legacies. Today, however, I want to focus on the evolution of formal educational legacies of an Olympic
Games⎯on programs designed specifically to bring the Olympic messages to children and youth in
schools, in community programs, in youth camps and on-line. In situations like these, Olympic education
becomes a context for “leading” children and youth in an exploration of the principles of Olympism, and
into activities in which Olympic-related experiences become part of a relevant and meaningful
educational journey.
        One of the earliest of the formal educational initiatives in an Olympic Games host city was a
program developed prior to the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976 by Dr. Fernand Landry, then a
professor at Laval University and a regular lecturer at the International Olympic Academy. It was
intended for use in the schools of the province of Quebec in Canada, and was based on an exploration of
the Olympic ideals of Pierre de Coubertin. According to an analysis of Olympic education programs by

 N. Mueller, (Ed.). (2000). Pierre de Coubertin: Olympism - Selected Writings. Lausanne, Switzerland:
International Olympic Committee, p. 126.

                                                           The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 2
Spangenberger 2 these materials included “exciting and informative text material [on the Olympic
values], addressed through actual and relevant examples…and presented with appropriate pedagogical
strategies.” In spite of this, the materials did not receive wide use in the province of Quebec. 3
         A departure from informational materials based primarily on the history and values of Olympism
came in 1984. The Olympics: An Educational Opportunity: Enrichment Units, (1984), prepared by
various educational authorities in the United States with support from the United States Olympic
Committee and the U.S. Office of Education, was an early attempt to integrate Olympic information with
curriculum objectives in various subject areas of the American school system. Since education in the
U.S.A. is a state responsibility, the material had to be organized so that it could be adapted and integrated
by classroom teachers into their existing school programs. In Spangenberger’s analysis, the messages of
de Coubertin’s Olympism were “hidden” in the hundreds of various classroom activities that were
suggested in the various components of the program. 4 Spangenberger had a similar criticism for the
educational programs of the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games. In his conclusions, however, he noted
that while the Montreal program clearly articulated the messages of Olympism, the Calgary programs
scored significantly higher among classroom teachers. How can an Olympic education program do both?
        Beginning with Calgary, let me now provide information about three examples of comprehensive
educational programs funded and supervised by host city organizing committees. In 1984, the Calgary
1988 Olympic Winter Games Organizing Committee began an initiative to inform young people about the
Olympic Games and about Olympic winter sports. Apart from hockey, Olympic winter sports were
traditional European sports. Many were not well-known to the typical Canadian child.
        With the help of two hundred teacher volunteers, what began as a project to prepare curriculum
books for schools to provide Olympic information, expanded to include an international children’s art
display, children’s postcards welcoming everyone who stayed in the athletes’ village, a youth drama
festival with themes of the Olympics and sport, street banners, garbage can painting, a speaker’s bureau,
and a field trip program for schools. All of these projects were supported by educational kits for each of
the three levels of the school system: elementary, junior and senior high. With the support of the ministry
of education, every school in the province was provided with copies of the kits. The federal government
took note of the success of the program, and, working with the Canadian Olympic Association, undertook
to produce and distribute the elementary program binder - in English and in French - to all elementary

  M. Spangenberger, (1994). Olympische Erziehungsprogramme fuer die Schulen. Ein internationaler Vergleich
unter Beruecksichtigung der Lehrziele, didaktischen Konzepte und peadagogischen Wirkung. Unpublished
Diplomarbeit, Johannes-Gutenberg-Universitaet, Mainz, p. 27.
  F. Landry, (1988). Notes from a private interview with the author, International Olympic Academy, July, 1988.
  M. Spangenberger, op. cit., p. 40.

                                                            The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 3
schools in the country. This happened just prior to the start of the torch relay. The programs seem to have
been well-used. 5
         A number of factors contributed to this outcome; these factors seem common to successful
school-based Olympic education efforts by organizing committees.
1. A steering committee for the program included officials from local school boards, and the provincial
    ministry of education.
2. A curriculum development specialist was hired to coordinate the writing of the curriculum binders.
    According to Schwab, a curriculum specialist brings a particular expertise to this role. 6 This person
    needs to have a “sense for the overall vision and values of the project…with this sense the curriculum
    specialist can then encourage and monitor the intentions and expertise of the other collaborators.” 7
    An educational program for schools has to maintain a balance between what has been described as the
    “four commonplaces” of curriculum: subject matter, learner, teacher and milieu. The curriculum
    specialist has the responsibility of translating the vision and values of the project “into practical
    classroom applications,” acting as “the countervailing force” for people with different priorities with
    respect to these four “commonplaces.” 8
3. Subcommittees of teacher volunteers helped to develop activities for the curriculum materials, and the
    materials were tried out in classrooms prior to final publication. This involvement provides quality
    control. For an organizing committee it has the added benefit of engaging hundreds of volunteers
    prior to the Games in activities that connect the Games positively to local, provincial and national
    schools and communities.
4. All activities were cross-referenced to school subject areas, and included all of the information
    needed by a teacher to use the materials. For example, background information was written so that it
    could also be used as a student handout for better readers, or was simplified as a reading card for very
    young students. Thus the materials became not only primers for teaching about the Olympics and
    winter Olympic sports, they became motivators for learning, integrating Olympic and sport content
    with activities to develop concepts in social studies, language arts, fine arts and drama, mathematics,
    physics, etc.

  Canadian Olympic Association. (1990). Unpublished survey.
  A discussion of the roles and responsibilities of a curriculum specialist based on the insights of Joseph Schwab on
the practical nature of the curriculum development process is included in Binder, D. 2002. Curriculum Odyssey:
Facilitating an International Olympic Education Project. Edmonton: University of Alberta, Doctoral Dissertation,
pp. 164-171.
  op.cit. p. 168
  ibid. p. 168

                                                              The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 4
5. The implementation strategy involved workshops for teachers, key contacts in every school, a school
    newsletter, updates, and a recognition program. Nationwide, this initiative was duplicated with
    volunteer educational “O” Teams in each province.
        Just as the Calgary Games educational legacy built on the Los Angeles legacy, subsequent
Olympic organizing committees seemed to build on the Calgary programs. And in the same way that
Olympic Games’ organizers learn from one another, Olympic education specialists, with the help of the
International Olympic Academy, have been able to share and compare ideas and initiatives.
        Each host city and host nation works, however, from within the “mileu” of a particular cultural
and educational tradition. For example, in contrast with the children of Calgary, the children of
Lillehammer were very familiar with the sports of the Olympic Winter Games. It was a winter tradition in
Norway for families to pack their cross-country skis up to cottages in the north and spend their weekend
skiing. Sports like ski jumping and cross-country skiing had their roots in Scandinavian traditions. The
Norwegians were also much more familiar with Olympic history and traditions. They had already hosted
one Olympic Winter Games (Oslo, 1952). Although the developers of the Lillehammer Olympic
education binder, under the direction of Kristin Helland, included the usual information regarding
Olympic history, traditions, symbols and ceremonies, they also included sections that helped children
explore the ethical issues related to the Olympic Games⎯in particular the environmental issues. Helland
suggests that the Olympic Games created the “golden situation” for learning. 9
        Since Los Angeles, advances in communication technology, and cooperation with educational
authorities have helped to involve more educators in the curriculum development process. By reaching
out to the educational community through technology, Olympic Games’ educational initiatives have been
supported by the ministries of education and have become increasingly relevant for classroom teachers.
Technology, specifically television, was used in the Lillehammer program to support the educational
initiatives. With the sponsorship of a local broadcast company, ten television programs were produced
highlighting various Olympic themes. These were shown at the same time in the mornings for classroom
        Helland confirms that the success of the Lillehammer Olympic education initiatives were based
on the five curriculum implementation factors described earlier. Helland also points out that the
implementation strategy should involve presentation to the local organizers of the Olympic Games who
do not always seem to understand that by reaching the community with projects and educational materials

 K. Helland. (1994). The educational programme during the Olympics in Lillehammer⎯intentions and experiences
before, during and after the Olympics.” Paper presented to the International Olympic Academy, 2nd Joint
International Session for Directors of NOAs, Members and Staff of NOCs and Ifs, June, 1994, p. 22.

                                                         The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 5
prior to the Games, the Olympic education initiatives actively support the Games community relations
efforts. 10
          Sydney’s Olympic 2000 National Education Program reached all of Australia’s 3.2 million school
students. No other host nation has attempted an educational outreach of this magnitude. Under the
management of Susan Crawford, a National Olympic Education Council oversaw the development of a
program with three key initiatives:
     •    a student newspaper, distributed on five occasions to all students in the country
     •    an educational kit or learning resource⎯aspire⎯ that included an interactive CD-ROM, a
          Teacher Guidebook; a set of three posters, a video and complementary Internet activities.
          Technology, the environment and a critical exploration of issues related to organizing the Games
          were among the topics highlighted in aspire.
     •    a web site called kids attached to the official site of the 2000 Olympic Games. The kids area
          “housed fun, interactive leisure and learning activities organized into Sport, Green, World and
          Techno Zones. This web site also featured a section for parents and teachers, providing back-up
          resource support and the educational rationale for the learning activities.” 11
          Thus, with the funding and support of a major Olympic sponsor, Sydney took full advantage of
modern technology to enhance the educational legacy of its Games. Additional education projects
included an art program for primary school students across Australia. In 2000, 54,500 students
participated, producing drawings on themes such as friendship, sport, the environment and
multiculturalism. According to Toohey, Crawford and Halbwirth, these “thematic approaches encouraged
expression of understandings of key Olympic themes, concepts and messages across a diversity of
areas.” 12
          The National Education Program also helped primary schools in Australia to establish contacts
with Olympic teams from other countries. Learning opportunities related to the culture of the chosen
country were then embedded in the curriculum of the school. Long-lasting friendships and ongoing
communication have resulted from the interest that schools took in “their” chosen country and the
performances of its Olympic athletes. 13 Crawford describes these kinds of “intangibles” as the most
important educational legacy of the Sydney Games.

   K. Helland. (2002). From a telephone interview with the author, September 30, 2002.
   Toohey, K., Crawford, S. and Halbwirth, S. (2000). Sydney’s Olympic legacy and educational resources. Orana,
March 2000, p.15.
   Ibid., p. 16
   Ibid., p. 16.

                                                           The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 6
        “I don’t think there will be a kid in all of Australia that will not remember his or her participation
in some aspect of the Olympic celebration⎯no matter how far they live from Sydney,” she says. 14
        Barcelona and Nagano are two other examples of host cities that have sustained educational
legacies from their Olympic Games. In Barcelona, 10,000 school children per year visit the museum
under the Olympic stadium, where they get to see memorabilia from the Games, participate in some
interactive video style games and, more importantly, be part of active sport and educational programs. 15
For Olympic educators the Olympic Studies Centre of the University of Barcelona also provides a lasting
educational legacy. It is the only university in the world that has been endowed with an International
Chair in Olympism. Its web site features a data base of more than 800 institutions and authors involved in
academic or educational Olympic-related activities. It also houses information on many Olympic-related
topics, and is one of the internet site that teachers and students from all over the world can go to in order
to find information for projects on the Olympic Movement. And it is a host for the global educational
opportunities of this conference.
        In Nagano, partly as a response to the criticisms about the environmental impact of the Games,
environmental education initiatives began that carry on as a legacy for the schools and schoolchildren of
Nagano today. For example, in June 1995, before construction of the men’s downhill course began, over
300 people, including Olympic volunteers and local junior high school students, transplanted
approximately 4,400 miyama’aoi plants and 870 yellow flower barrenwort plants which are used by the
rare Gifu butterfly for food and laying eggs. “Olympic Ecology” became one of the themes featured on
the Nagano ’98 Kids Info Centre web page. Since 1996 Nagano has hosted the Children’s Environment
Conference where children come together to “discuss ideas and exchange opinions concerning their
surrounding environment….[They also] present the results of their environmental study and preservation
activities during the conference.” 16

The Role of the International Olympic Academy
      While the education legacies of specific Games are of special benefit to the children of those
countries, the educational legacy of Olympism also has a global dimension. The Greek (Hellenic)
Olympic Committee in 1961 hosted the first International Olympic Academy (IOA), in tents on a field
within view of the ruins of the ancient Olympic stadium in Ancient Olympia.

   S. Crawford. (2002). From a telephone interview with the author. September 27, 2002.
   Toohey, K., Crawford, S. and Halbwirth, S. (2000). Sydney’s Olympic legacy and educational resources. Orana,
March 2000, p.14.
   The Nagano City Children’s Environmental Conference. On-line:
http://www.city.nagano.nagano.jp/english/school/kodomokaigi/kodomo-e.htm, September 24, 2002.

                                                           The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 7
      As educational legacies evolved from the Games of 1984 to 2000, the IOA became the focal point
for discussions about Olympic education. At the IOA, the pedagogical ideals of the Olympic idea become
the lived experiences of participants from many lands. At the IOA “the considerable value of the
Olympic idea and the international contacts and understanding are more evident…than at the Olympic
Games: those attending can meet more freely, without the pressure of competition and the emotions of
winning or losing…” 17
      These discussions at the IOA have directly contributed to the establishment of National Olympic
Academies in more than seventy countries of the world. National Olympic Academies around the world
undertake Olympic education initiatives within their own educational jurisdictions. The German National
Olympic Academy is the leader in the field, publishing Olympic-related materials for its network of
teachers prior to each Olympic Games. The German NOA also hosts a teacher symposium on the site of
the International Olympic Academy every two years. Many National Olympic Academies have seminars
for physical education students. Olympic week activities on June 23, bring hundreds of people together
for Olympic Day Runs. In Peru the children of Lima come together for a painting day at Lima’s Olympic
Park. Prizes for the best painting include a bicycle. The New Zealand Olympic Academy has integrated
the ideals of the Olympic Movement in a ministry-approved curriculum document titled “The Olympic
Ideals in Physical Education.” In Russia, Olympism is a required high school subject.
        The Youth Camps which take place during the days of the summer Olympic Games have become
mini Olympic Academies. In Sydney almost all NOCs participating in the Games sent one boy and one
girl to the camp.
        “For two weeks 381 young people, aged 16 to 18 years, from 170 NOCs, speaking 70 different
        languages, enjoyed a first-hand experience of the Olympic ideals of peace, enterprise, teamwork,
        sportsmanship, fair play and participation. They had the chance to interact with their
        contemporaries and gain an awareness of the global community, develop an understanding of the
        role of the Olympic Games in modern society, establish an international circle of friends and
        achieve a sense of empowerment. For many, this was not only their first visit to Australia, but
        also the first time they had left their home country. The OYC would be a life-changing
        experience for most campers. New ideas would be explored, new lessons learned. The organisers
        wanted participants to feel that they could change the world, and this was what most of them took
        home.” 18

   N. Mueller. (Ed.). (1992). International Olympic Academy-IOA: Thirty Years of IOA as mirrored by its lectures
(1961-1990). Translated by B. Kuebler-Mabbott. Lausanne: International Olympic Committee, p. XV.
   Official Report of the XXVII Olympiad. Education and Friendship: The Olympic Youth Camp. On-line:
http://www.gamesinfo.com.au/postgames/en/pg000688.htm, September 26, 2002.

                                                            The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 8
International Initiatives
       In 1994 the Commission for the International Olympic Academy and Olympic Education under
Chairman Mr N. Fileratos commissioned the first international educational handbook for schools.
Specifically intended to provide basic information on the Olympic Games for countries that did not have
the funding to produce their own materials, Keep the Spirit Alive: You and the Olympic Games was
reviewed by internationally-recognized Olympic scholars and distributed to all NOC’s and NOA’s.
         In 1994 the same year, at a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Olympic
Committee, the then president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and recipient of the Olympic Gold
Order, Mr. Antonius Tzikas, challenged the audience to dedicate the next centennial to children, the
“stars” of our world. He suggested to his audience that the “Olympic and Sporting messages be codified
and taught since Nursery school, if possible, and let the children of the whole world receive them.” 19 Mr.
Tzikas was familiar with the progress in Calgary and Lillehammer. After retiring from the Hellenic
Committee he established the Foundation for Olympic and Sport Education (FOSE) to carry out Olympic
education projects.
         Over the next three years the Foundation convened three international educational conferences to
formulate objectives for an international Olympic education program. One of the basic questions that was
discussed was whether any international curriculum effort using the Olympics as a context would have
relevance in the multiple cultural and educational traditions of the world. At the second conference
participants affirmed Olympic education as a part of general education, “meeting the needs of school
systems by means of the potential of sport,” and that “integrating Olympic ideals in a system of education
is an effective pedagogical method, and will be readily accepted by the participating youth.”20
Participants also agreed on five basic objectives for an Olympic education program for schools: 21
1. To enrich the human personality through physical activity and sport, blended with culture, and
     understood as lifelong experience.
2. To develop a sense of human solidarity, tolerance and mutual respect associated with fair play.
3. To encourage peace, mutual understanding, respect for different cultures, protection of the
     environment, basic human values and concerns, according to regional and national requirements.
4. To encourage excellence and achievement in accordance with fundamental Olympic ideals.
5. To develop a sense of the continuity of human civilization as explored through ancient and modern
     Olympic history. From 1997 to 2001 the Foundation developed and piloted two international

   A. Tzikas. (1996). Celebration of the Centennial of the Olympic Games Unpublished speech delivered in Athens,
April 9, 1996.
   Foundation of Olympic and Sport Education. (1997). Proceedings of the second (‘B”) Preliminary Conference for
the Introduction of Olympic and Sports Education in Schools. Naoussa, Greece: January, 1997, p. 3.
   Ibid., p. 3.

                                                           The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 9
     teachers’ resource manuals based on the above objectives⎯one in Greek, written by Ms. Ioanna
     Mastora, Project Coordinator for the Foundation, and one in English, supervised by an International
     Steering Committee. The Greek version is already part of the Olympic education legacy leading up to
     the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
         The English manual, titled Be A Champion in Life, was symbolically unveiled at a conference for
international educators at the foot of Mt Olympus in June 2001. Presentations were received from five
pilot studies carried out on five continents: in the Republic of China, in Australia, Brazil, United
Kingdom and Canada. Art work, classroom assignments and teacher surveys from the pilot programs
seemed to indicate that the ideals of Olympism have relevance in different cultural contexts. 22
         How well do such programs adhere to the principles of Olympism as elaborated by Pierre de
Coubertin? Current discussions on the topic by German educators argue that Olympic education is still a
“traditional sport-based activity” in which the first requirement should be a “long-term and systematic
development of motor skills in order to strive for success in single or team competitions.” 23 These authors
do not address the curriculum issues of how, within the context of formal educational situations, children
can be motivated to strive for excellence in physical endeavours, nor how these endavours connect with
the practical realities of life in schools. De Coubertin himself suggested that it is also sport when a
youngster is climbing walls and leaping across streams. “They take great delight in overcoming a natural
difficulty, and the greater the obstacle, the greater, too, is their satisfaction at having overcome it.” 24
         Participants to the Mt Olympus educational conference⎯including representatives from the IOC,
WHO, UNESCO and ICSPE⎯agreed that children’s rights for physical and recreational activity and
children’s health have all become considerations for the future of Olympic education initiatives. Based on
world-wide data about the decline of physical education in schools, 25 there is a current and urgent need
for Olympic education initiatives to place a priority on the development of motor skills in children,
whether it be in a well-organized school sport program such as exist in some European countries, or
whether it be in a physical education class where students are jumping rope in an inner city concrete
compound. Health concerns over children’s obesity and the increasing incidents in diabetes, high blood

   D. Binder. (2002). op.cit., pp. 189-196.
   R. Gessmann. (2002). Olympisches Erziehung in der Schule: Zentrales und Peripheres. Sportunterricht,
Schorndorf, 51, Heft 1, p.17. (Translation by the author.)
   N. Mueller, op. cit., p. 130. Note: The difference between what is sport and what is physical activity is a topic for
debate on the North American continent. “Sport” is usually defined there as relating to competitive physical
activities. The term “sport” is interpreted in different ways in other linguistic and educational traditions. Elementary
school teachers would probably point out, however, that children need to learn to cooperate (as a team, that is)
before they can compete (see D. Binder, Fair Play for Kids).
   K. Hardman. (1998). Threats to physical education! Threats for Sports for All? Paper presented at the VII
International “Sport for All” Conference: Sport for All and the global educational challenges. Barcelona, Spain,
November 1998.

                                                              The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 10
pressure, joint problems and possible implications for future osteoporosis are traced by researchers to a
lack of physical activity. While those responsible for physical activities in schools and communities
quickly point to lack of financial resources for facilities and equipment, there is some encouraging
research to suggest that expensive equipment and facilities are not necessary in a physical activity
program focussed on the development of basic motor skills and physical health. These findings offer the
Olympic Movement possible directions for supporting the efforts of the International Council of Sport
Science and Physical Activity to get the youth of the world active again.
         A team of researchers—including the Associate Director of our Institute, Dr. Graham
Fishburne— suggest that “a little exercise would make a big difference to today’s children. Many are
failing to build up their skeleton during a vital two-year window before puberty.”
        The team, led by Dr. Heather McKay of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, found
        that children have the greatest increase in bone mineral after the growth spurt just before puberty.
        Children put on over a quarter of their bone mass in this two-year period…In girls, it tends to be
        between age 10 and 12, while in boys it’s between 13 and 15. McKay’s team, which is following
        383 children…has found that even small interventions during this period can make a big
        difference. 26
        Following a program of circuit training with impact activities lasting 10 minutes just three times
per week, girls had amassed an extra 2 per cent of bone mineral compared with a group doing stretches.
        These findings support an approach to physical education that is focussed on evidence-based
research about how children develop their bones, and how to motivate them to want to make regular
physical activity a part of their lives. De Coubertin thought the answer was in games and school sport for
boys. For the schools of the world today I suggest that the answer is regular physical activity for all, in all
of its varieties. This is the challenge, and I would suggest that a priority for future Olympic education
efforts might be to assist teachers in offering challenging and appropriate physical activities as part of the
daily classroom activities. Elementary school educators in particular require a basic pedagogical
understanding of movement education and implementation. An IOC Olympic education web site could
support teachers by providing this information.
        Another challenge for future Olympic education programs will be how to help educators address
the critical issues within the Olympic Movement. Not all education systems welcome critical thinking on
the part of students. A credible Olympic education program, however, cannot avoid helping students
understand and discuss these issues. One question educators struggle with is at what age are these critical
issues to be addressed? Equally challenging is the question of how to address the moral issues underlying

  A. Motiuk. (2002). Best catch ‘em young: A crucial couple of years can make or break your skeleton. New
Scientist, 12, January 2002, p. 14.

                                                          The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 11
problems such as drugs, cheating and violence. Addressing these questions will again bring educators face
to face with the dilemma of weaving an acceptable course between the ideals of the Olympic movement
and the educational objectives of local education authorities.

        Maxine Greene 27 suggests that it is through the stimulation of the imagination that children come
to see themselves and the possibilities of their world in a different way. She emphasizes the fine arts as
the place where children’s imaginations can be best stimulated. Images from the VISA “Olympics of the
Imagination” program for the Sydney Olympic Games demonstrate the power of an imaginative and
exciting event like an Olympic Games to bring the ideals of sport, peace, friendship and fair play together
in artistic representations. Furthermore, as de Coubertin suggests, this stimulation of imagination also
takes place in the striving for physical excellence. Engagement of the whole body in the physical domain
engages not only the physical, mental and intellectual domains, but also, according to the traditional
teachings of our First Nations people, the spiritual domain. 28 De Coubertin suggests that whether you are
climbing a mountain or playing rugby the effect is the same. The reason the Olympic Movement brings
sport and culture together is because together they stimulate the imagination and motivate all of us to
strive for “a better and more peaceful world.”
        Today, every city bidding for an Olympic Games is required to outline its plans for an Olympic
education initiative. The challenge for all who believe that sport and physical activity provide a context
for learning about life is how to realize these aims. As de Coubertin himself writes, it is not enough to talk
about them; they must be practiced. The legacy of Olympic education, particularly at the elementary and
middle school age level could serve as a ‘bridge’ between the striving for excellence by elite athletes and
the reaching for dreams by a young child jumping over a school bench. What greater legacy could there

   M. Greene. (1995). Releasing the imagination: Essays on education, the arts, and social change. San Francisco,
CA: Jossey-Bass.
   E. Ghostkeeper. (2002). Greetings to the First Annual Summer Institute of the Institute for Olympic Education.
Edmonton: University of Alberta, July 8, 2002.

                                                           The Legacy of the Olympic Games for Education 12

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