Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hungry for the goal - epic wins in learning.

As I sit watching my son's team play soccer I see so many kids on the pitch...all here for different reasons, all here to win. I see each one picking up a different role...some roles designated by the coach, some roles happening spontaneously and some roles being picked up to help those who are not so strong in a particular area. I see kids reading the play, some have a more mature insight than others, depending on their background experiences. the opposition, the shoulders slump and the tone of the game shifts. I hear kids calling out to each other, offering advice, encouraging each other when things don't go as they should and giving hints from their own perspectives. Goal the opposition..again..tone shifts. I see boys hungry for the get that ball inside those posts. I see kids own their own game. Occasionally coach calls out some advice to refocus the group...this advice only works when there is a culture of respect. It helps. The boys persist. The tension is tangible. Goal...our side..the epic win moment (as described in Tom Vanderarks's book called Getting Smart). The epic win isn't about the final score, it is about the events along the way, personal wins, personal improvements...growth. Shoulders straighten, smiles appear, encouragement all around is offered. The back slapping makes me smile. The half glimpses to the side lines to check that loved ones actually noticed what just happened. The tone shifts and the ultimate goal is potentially available once more. Focus regained, the boys move off for half time and reassess how they are going work together to achieve the next goal.

How much is this game like our classrooms? There is real merit in letting our learners control their learning environment...give the credit for the experiences they bring and let them drive a little more. As their coach/facilitator we can step back and let them solve problems, explore their learning and find answers. Through letting them do these things our students think deeply, think creatively, think critically and they own their learning. The epic win becomes sweeter. Our learners develop skills that set them up for life. Are we prepared to hand over ownership of the game? What does it take to construct environments that produce epic wins for individuals? Let's see more shoulders held high, more smiles on faces and students reaching new heights.

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