To create and establish a new educational programme or training course that is both academic and practical is a mammoth task, no matter the subject area. The Erasmus SchoolJudo.EU project is working through the process of doing just that, but there are added complications: the varied education systems at play in different European countries, a pandemic, the current status of budgeting in schools, the gaps in understanding of each separate system, the fundamental values of judo that we must work within and so many more.

Malta’s Dr Joseph Castillo has been working on this project for many months, alongside Envic Galea, IJF Academy Chair and Ruben Houkes, IJF Children Commission Director and founder of the Judo in Schools programme in the Netherlands, to establish the objectives of the IJF Academy and therefore also, based on the experience in the Netherlands, to understand the current context in each of the Erasmus pilot countries: Italy, Hungary and Slovenia.

Joseph explained, “The main challenge has been what to leave out rather than what to include. When teaching children, there are so many facets to it that it would be an extensive task and would be distracting from the real objective, if not defined carefully.

The role of ‘Entertrainer’ combines the traditional position of a judo trainer/coach with an entertainer. It is the case, when talking about school judo, that this is a new role within the field of judo instruction and so there is no current, written curriculum for this. A competence profile is needed, to ensure the knowledge, skills and methods required could be learned and or practised. The IJF Academy can use the competence profile to design curricular content. It’s a useful tool for international comparability.

The methodology was to gather international literature on physical education. This is a huge task but eventually we have been able to produce a draft and begin discussing how to refine and apply it.

The programme must facilitate the child’s wholistic development, assisting a child’s social and emotional development through the planning of challenging but achievable experiences, based on judo values. All the programmes should be aligned with the judo philosophy of jita kyoei, always considering the mutual prosperity for self and others."

Learning more than judo techniques, to build a better society

"Having gathered a bank of information, the next stage was to develop an Entertrainers handbook, to serve as a guide for Entertrainers to provide judo in schools, applying the concepts of our system.

Our Entertrainers and all staff involved at the school level must have a growth mindset; it is key to the programme.”

Ruben agrees, “In the past months we have done the research with the federations. We have collected everything we think is important to transfer to the Academy. Everything is based on the fundamentals of experiential learning. We must make sure judo is presented as more than sport and teachers are more than coaches, but are Entertrainers.”

Envic adds, “Establishing a system to deliver the key concepts of the SchoolJudo.EU model, that can be adapted and rolled out within any European education system, is a huge challenge but we are making headway. The research has taken 6 months, to this point, beginning with looking at Ruben’s system in the Netherlands, seeing how games have been adapted, how the coaches can take that extra step towards becoming Entertrainers, how to involve the wider school community and more."

"We are also working on this course forming part of an accredited, university level qualification, alongside other modules we are producing at the Academy. It’s an exciting period.”

In this transition period of turning big ideas into tangible qualifications that are both academic and practical, we can start to see the project objectives coming to life. There is so much more to come but for now we leave the final stages of the creation of this course in the hands of Dr Castillo and the Erasmus+ working group.

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