Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More On Stifling Creativity - We Run Our Schools Like We Coach Soccer

Yesterday's post asked the question Are Schools Killing Your Child's Creativity?  That reminded me of a post I wrote back in December on a different blog which was titled "We Run Our Schools Like We Coach Soccer."

Here's the post:

As a former coach, I was intrigued by the headline Hog the ball, kid referencing an article written by Sasha Issenberg on Boston.com about the way we coach youth soccer in our country. Reading through the article, a number of things seemed closely connected to how we educate students as well.

“We take the creativity and imagination out of players at a young age,” said Thomas Rongen, coach of the United States under-20 men’s national team. This reminded me of a scenario Will Richardson described at a conference last spring. He asked how many students we thought would raise their hands if we went into a kindergarten or first grade class an asked how many of them were good at art. We all agreed that all of the students would raise their hands enthusiastically. Then the bigger question was asked - At what age do kids start thinking they are not good at art? More importantly, why?

It is of course not just about art class, but when is that students start to lose their excitement for school in general? Again, why does this happen?

A Possible Solution (From The Soccer Field)

As the article continued it described the difference between soccer instruction in the Unites States and soccer instruction in countries with more talented soccer teams.

"In those cultures, children hone their skills naturally through relentless informal play...They suggest ways to reduce the amount of instruction entirely, instead creating loose situations where kids get a lot of access to the ball and are able to experiment with it... No adult with a whistle will stop a cocky player from making a daring run at goal, or scold her for insouciantly challenging a defender..."

For me, I think we tend to be to narrow-minded in how we allow students to access information and make it their own. The description above to me is a perfect description of the inquiry-based model. While I could go on and write a few more paragraphs on the passage above, I think the connection is clear.

The Conclusion

The final sentence of the article also could be a concluding statement on our traditional approach to education. "What’s best for children over the long term, in this case, may be exactly the thing that brings them the most gratification now."

My thoughts on this concluding sentence started me back on inquiry-based learning as well as the importance of integrating technology into all curriculum areas. As Chris Lehmann brilliantly described in his article Shifting Ground"For most students, the tools and talents they employ outside of school have little place in their academic classes." We need to stop taking the technological tools that students find gratifying and engaging out of their hands when they enter our doors.

As Lehmann concludes in his article, "Schools can and must be transformative—when they encourage kids to harness the new tools at their disposal to create real work of meaning, students can be authentic voices in the world!" Real work of meaning? Authentic voices? That sounds like fun!

We better not try it.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this article, Hog the ball, kid, reminded me of a very talented student whom I had 23 years ago. Jackie was an able student, a phenomenal athlete and an overall great citizen. I can remember attending one of her basketball games and reminiscing how unique she was. Those of us in the stands would marvel at how she played the game. Her mind was constantly drumming up new strategies and approaches for success. We used to say that her mind was more at work coming up with new ideas than were her feets and hands throughout the whole game.
    When I viewed the title of this article, I asked myself how can the kid be a team player if s(he) is investing in hogging the ball. But, I remembered how Jackie came up with great strategies which were for the team's success and not just for her own. This article illustrated how the talented, creative kid can still contribute to the whole success of the team. This kid is a team player with unique and creative abilities.