Friday, June 5, 2009

School Could Be Like Golf

On Monday, I was enjoying my first golf outing of the summer and a thought occurred to me. You might have to work at following me here, but I think I have made an important connection between two of my favorite activities... Golf and getting kids to learn.

Any golfer will tell you that the game can be very frustrating. I was on the fourth green (which I had overshot two times) and I was wondering what it was about this game that kept me coming back for more? I stepped into the tee area of the fifth hole and hit the absolute most beautiful shot I had ever seen. It popped off the tee just right, it had a beautiful arch, and it landed very near the green. Then, wham---it hit me, that was the reason that people continue to golf. A person might make 200 terrible shots, but then the one amazingly beautiful hit blows wind back into your sails and you are hooked. HOPE and a little talent charts the course.

As I walked to the green to get a close up look at that beautifully hit ball, I thought 'what if school was like this for kids?' I know it is a strange thought, but it is how my mind works.  What if kids had a chance at some real success. What if the teacher found out what it was that made the kid tick and then found ways for the kid to show how smart they are in a way that works for the kid? An activity/project/event that inspires success. This can not be a fake experience or a cake-walk type project. It wouldn't inspire me to keep golfing if someone stood around and falsely cheered me on...nor would it work to go toss the ball on the green and say I had been amazing. The learning event must be real and honest.

My mind goes immediately to an activity in my school when we were trying out Animation-Ish.  The history teacher assigned students one of the assignments I created for the Animation-Ish Educator Guide -- the Political Cartoon.   The 'Talented and Gifted" kids made some great animations that demonstrated their vast knowledge of the topic in history. But, equally as amazing, some of the 'lower' kids also created amazing animations. The kids who are firmly in the 'at-risk' designation had shown their grasp of the the content by animating their assignment. So, my thought is....if we can provide these stunningly beautiful drives off the tee, maybe we can fill the sails of the "off the path" learners. HOPE!

For a few years I lead a committee in my school and I worked with kids who were struggling in school. I learned SO much about how kids interact with school. To a student who has multiple F's, grades are NOT motivating. Maybe part of the problem is that their experience is doing poorly...they are used to that. What if we rethink some assignments and give them some new experiences that are motivating and lead to hope...and success?

What do you think???  Did I spend too much time in the sun, or am I on to something? 
 Teach - Hope! 

Graphic above is from the new Stationery Studio Add-On Pack called Sports and Exercise.  Stationery Studio is from my friends at FableVision and the program was designed by the amazing Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns and with Peter H. Reynolds' artwork. As I have mentioned several times, I work for FableVision, but not in sales. If you want to get K-5 students excited about writing, check out this program!!


kellywchris said...

TJ - you are absolutely right - golf is like school. In fact, golf, for most of us, is very similar to the life we live each day. There are okay moments, sandtraps, rough, the "wild" and we sometimes spend a lot of our time searching for things that, in the end, are not that significant and we'd be much farther ahead just accepting and begin anew. At school, many teachers consider themselves to be the "players" when in fact our role is to be the perfect caddy - even Bill Murrayish if needed - helping, suggesting, givig advice, carrying the tools and allowing the real "pros" - our students - to relish the exhiliration of hitting that "Perfect" shot. For me as an administrator - I consider myself to be the clubhouse pro - making sure all things are just right so that the players can demonstrate their best no matter. It's then up to the players to play their best game.

Paul Bogush said...

It is also very, very, clear what you have to do be successful in golf.