mixed messages


Maths (Photo credit: Marcus Mo)

“My child is confused!”

“There is no consistency!”

“This is no way to learn!”

…Wow, take a chill…

The quotes above are representative of things you hear from concerned parents.  Perhaps the setting is the sideline of a game where the coach for the day is yet another “staff” coach who has been assigned the squad.  Or maybe it is a training session where the head coach has been called away to another duty, and an assistant is handling things.  The parents hear and/or see things that are different from what the usual  coach would say and/or do, and the volcano of concern and angst erupts: “How can my little Suzie learn how to be a good soccer player when she hears different things from different people?”

As I have described before, there are interesting parallels between soccer and elementary education.  In this case, the quotes above might just as easily come from a concerned parent whose child is now learning “the same concept” in math class for the third time, with each lesson teaching a different way to solve the problem.  I hear “just teach my kid how to solve the problem one way and move on – all these different approaches are confusing!”.

Wow – for real?  Think about this – you want your kid to only know how to solve a “problem” one way?  What if that is how you approached your job – would that rigidity work well for you?  Problem solving flexibility is what kept our people adapting and alive in various surroundings through history, and you want to teach them to be rigid?

The fact is, almost EVERY problem we encounter has MULTIPLE POSSIBLE APPROACHES, be it in solving a math problem, dealing with a personality issue at work, or figuring out how to win a soccer match.  In soccer, every different coach will have different takes on how to approach the game, or may choose different styles based on the talent at hand – there is no one right way to play.  Stoke City, Barcelona, and Inter Milan are all teams with strong identity to different styles of play, yet they all play in the top league of their respective countries (with different levels of success, to be sure).  When your child encounters different coaches with different ideas, that can be a very good thing.  That different perspective will help the child be a more flexible and effective player.  The child is not mature enough to understand this now, but hopefully the parents will be…just as they should when dealing with the math teacher.

…folks, take a chill…


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