Osaka YMCA
International School

Measurements of Success in Sports & Studies


Measurements of Success in Sports & Studies

You may have seen the new Netflix documentary ‘Beckham’, about one of England’s most well-known footballers.

Near the start, Beckham talks about his school days and says ‘I never really did well at school. I wasn’t intelligent, believe it or not.’

Now that got my attention. Having been to several games where David Beckham played, I have to disagree with him.

Intelligence in many schools, and maybe in society, is often judged by how eloquent we are, or how much we know about an academic subject.

However, there are many other ways of measuring intelligence and success. For example, how many of us could pass a football from 40 yards and land it exactly where we wanted? How many of us could curve a ball over a wall of defenders and watch it nestle in the top corner?

For this, you need a certain kind of intelligence. There’s an element of physics and mathematics in knowing the amount of spin, pace and direction in which to aim. There’s also a lot of resilience in being willing to practise these skills again and again until you perfect them.

And so while David Beckham may have not left school with a string of grade As (or 7s), he undoubtedly has a type of intelligence that very few others possess. Of course, he’s also been phenomenally successful too, despite his perceived lack of ‘intelligence’. He appears to be a caring, open-minded individual who can balance a family life, career and numerous sponsors. That also takes a particular kind of skill.

You may have noticed I’ve weaved in several of IB’s Learner Profiles here. That’s because they also seek to make students aware that they need these attributes if they are going to do well in life – simply getting the top grades won’t be enough, especially in today’s ever-changing world.

This is something we look to promote among our students. We highlight an IB Learner Profile attribute each month and present certificates to students in each grade who exemplify them the most. We also encourage students to discuss these attributes (there are ten in total) and consider who they feel demonstrates them well.

Some may grow up and become professional athletes, like Beckham. Others may not, but they will still require different types of intelligence to succeed. For some, those academic grades are going to be vital for the path they choose to go down and, for others, they will be able to find their own versions of ‘success’ based on the life skills – and Learner Profile attributes – that we work hard to promote.

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