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Learning As Sport

Learning is all about motivation. Many students will race around a track in sheets of rain and howling wind. In any chosen athletic contest or training they will wring every ounce of energy from their psyche and body. They will not wait to be driven, but will drive themselves almost to collapse and be exhilarated by team loyalty and pride in their personal self-discipline. They will revere and obey the slaphappy coach who makes Marine drill instructors seem mellow by comparison as he bulldozes his students to victory over the limitations of others and of themselves.

Why will many of these same kids despise the classroom teacher for insisting they bring a pencil to school each day?

Teachers colleges can learn a lot from the best athletic coaches. The mental skills associated with excellence in sports are ideally suited to academic pursuits.

Hard work with a “no excuse” attitude to personal failure is as relevant to a classroom as to a playing field. Self-discipline and sacrifice, a clear head and cool temper, and strategies for coping with any contingency and challenge are all part of the formula.

A tough but loving taskmaster, whether a coach or a teacher, will earn the gratitude and loyalty of the kids in their charge.

And hopefully skirt the wrath of the DOE.



  • 1 Gideon
    · Aug 1, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Interesting analogy. One of the great motivators in sports is competition that allows participants to clearly measure their performance. Athletes know immediately whether they win or lose, and can see direct connections between their training and their ultimate performance. Perhaps if students were able to take seriously the assessment results provided by their teachers, and even by state tests, and believe their teachers’ guidance was instrumental in helping them achieve, then maybe you’d see the same motivation. As it is, I think many students have internalized that their performance is based on their own demographics and/or socio-economic status, and don’t attribute much to their own effort or their teachers’ skills.

  • 2 Phyllis C. Murray
    · Aug 22, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Re. “Learning as a Sport”
    Each year new authors emerge right before our eyes. Their young voices need to be heard. In an effort to provide an audience for these young writers, beyond the perimeters of the classroom, our writers compete in contests throughout the nation. They also submit their pieces of literature to periodicals. And finally, web pages are also created to promote their efforts and accomplishments.

    Access to numerous agencies and organizations is available. Therefore, there is always a supportive network for our youngsters’ ingenuity vis a vis contests galore. Our students are ready for the challenge. They are perfecting their craft our classrooms each day. They are like artists using words as a tool; creating moods, capturing fleeting images, and providing the rhythm only they know, to make their picture complete.

    Each year we look forward to the awakening of new writers who will be published at a very young age. They are writing to be read as they place their words and life on the line. Surely, like any fan, that cheers for children, we applaud them, as they step up to the plate. And say,”Write on!”

    Phyllis C. Murray
    Literacy/Social Studies 75X