Football and Education.
I watched more football this weekend than I normally do.¬† Perhaps it was the rain that finally graced our communities that drove me inside.¬† It seemed that every time I turned my head, that there was an interception.¬† Chaos took over the field for those brief seconds, until both sides figured out what had happened.¬† I wondered briefly if I ought not to watch.¬† Was it coincidence that these turnovers happened every time I tuned in?¬†¬† Superstitions aside, I knew I was not the cause.¬† The teams have the best football players in the world vying to win.¬† When such forces collide, it is inevitable that the unexpected happens.¬† Still, the game settles down, and with different strategies, the teams continue to play the game.
So, how does this play into education?
We have seen some forces colliding over the past several decades.¬† Testing mandates, dropout rates, curriculum standards, union priorities, teacher assessments, pay-for-performance, global competition‚Ä¶¬† Can anyone else name a few?¬† This list is not exhaustive.¬† The question I have is, with all these forces at play, do we have a clear sight of what ‚Äúwinning‚ÄĚ means?¬† Further, do we agree on the spirit of the game?
Current jargon suggests that all students should be prepared for ‚Äúpost-secondary success‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúcareer or college‚ÄĚ.¬† Okay.¬† Let‚Äôs say that we all agree.
Do we align our strategies and tactics to meet this goal?¬† Are we carrying this through the entire 13+ years that a child is in the public school system?¬† How do we balance the need for academics and practical learning?¬†¬† Do we personalize education through differentiated instruction or pretend to by placing children with varying needs in the same class and expecting a daily miracle from the teacher?¬† Do we provide enough exposure to what is possible outside the classroom to engage the imaginations of our youth?¬† Are the students destined to follow the same path as their parents, failing some critical intervention?¬† What kinds of interventions yield the optimal post-secondary success?
And, how about the spirit of the game?¬† The football crowds were quite different.¬† Some college games were packed!!¬† 68,000 people out hooping and hollering for their team.¬†¬† Other stadiums were more empty than full.¬† Certainly cheering and face-paint are fine ways of displaying enthusiasm.¬† Whereas, taser-ing fans of the other team is not.¬†¬† On the field, the referees drop the yellow flag when there are too many players on the field, too much time in starting the next play, unnecessary roughness (this one makes me smile, really? J), ‚Ä¶¬†¬† The coaches can raise their red flag to protest a call and the instant replay gives a chance for technology to assist in assessing the situation.
What is the spirit of the discussion about education?¬† I‚Äôm right; you‚Äôre wrong?¬† It‚Äôs poverty, the unions, centralized administration, the kids, the parents, the teachers, the tests, the ______ (fill in the blank) that is to blame.¬† If we were keeping score, who is winning?¬† What does it take to move the conversation forward?
As the economy has slowed over the past few years, how should we react with respect to education?¬† The recent budget cuts are at best an interception.¬† Some would call it a fumble.¬† The chaos gives rise to the professionals on the field to react and to make the play.
Well, readers, I have a lot of questions about this subject.¬† I‚Äôll leave you with one more consideration.¬†¬† While we can compare education and football, I wonder if the purpose of public education is to provide athletics to our youth.¬† Some coaches make more money and teach fewer classes than other teachers on the same campuses.¬†¬† I think I‚Äôll ponder this at another time‚Ä¶