Fewer Teachers; More Coaches

By Dr. Jason R. Edwards
The Center for Vision & Values

From their first day in education school, teachers today are taught to constantly bolster their students’ “self-esteem.” Strangely, I don’t remember my coaches having the same concern. Self-esteem could wait until I had actually accomplished something. Until then, they would be happy to inform me that I didn’t know what I was doing. Typically, these explanations of my short-comings would even arrive in a loud voice and in front of others. Public embarrassment wasn’t abuse; it was an effective spur to succeed.

Modern educational theorists constantly hand wring over “drill and kill” memorization activities. Not my coaches. Learning meant practice and practice meant drill. Whether I “enjoyed” it wasn’t the issue; if I was going to cover our cross-town rival’s wide-receiver I couldn’t be thinking about my footwork Friday night, so I practiced the basics until they became automatic. That is how you gain the ability to really play (automating the basics) and the same holds true for thinking.

Finally, teachers today are taught to abjure competition. Coaches know, however, that if “everyone’s a winner” everyone’s also a loser. Call it a part of fallen human nature if you want, but the fact remains that if nothing is really at stake, if excellence and failure cannot be recognized, effort will disappear. Schools now enjoy their greatest accomplishments on athletic fields, in concert halls, and in theaters because in these venues not everyone gets to start, be first chair, or play the lead. In these arenas, you are granted the opportunity to succeed and, perhaps more importantly, to fail.

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