Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Curling as a teachable moment

Those that follow me on Twitter know that I love the sport of curling. Ever since I saw it at the Olympics in 2010 from Vancouver, I along with most of the US were hooked by the sport. Since then I have been fortunate to see it live twice, with the US Nationals being hosted locally in Philly. This past weekend I attend the first two days of competition for the 2014 Nationals. On the way home I started thinking about how the aspects of the game can be applied to education and in particular students. Here are five aspects of curling that I think apply greatly to education.

  1. Choices - In curling, where you place the rock can have ramifications later. Do you place a guard or try to get it close to the button right away? This is especially true with education. Choices students make now can have major ramifications later in life for them. This is especially true of a digital footprint. Students now have the ability to post pictures or videos of themselves online with their mobile devices without giving it any thought. But what happens when your child posts something that can later get them in trouble or even prevent them from getting into college? Students need to learn earlier and earlier each year, what the ramifications are of posting content online of themselves. A great website to track some of your photos is called Ready or Not. On this site you enter your Twitter or Instagram username, and it will show you on a map exactly where this photo was taken. Why is this important? Your child can post a picture of themselves online via Instagram and someone can then see exactly where their school or home is with detailed information. An easy fix for this is to turn off GPS location for your photos.

  2. Obstacles - In curling your opponent is always trying to knock your rocks out of the house so they can get closer to the button to score. This is especially true of today's students. We all have obstacles or distractions to overcome. It used to just be TV was a distraction when I was growing up, but now there are almost an unlimited ways today's student is distracted from family life, social media, to gaming, and of course TV. It is how a student responds to those obstacles that defines them. Do you fall to pieces or do you gracefully pick yourself up and try again. 

  3. Perseverance - This past weekend a team had an impossible shot to make with the hammer to win. I was fortunate enough to be standing around a few of the men's teams as they watched the shot. Most agreed that there was little chance the women's team was going to make it. However, just a few minutes later the crowd erupted as they did in fact win with a lucky bounce. It was an incredible shot, and one I wish I had recorded. Isn't it an amazing feeling when you're working with a struggling student who finally "gets it" or increases their score on a test? That joy you see is them realizing that they can do it if they hang in there. It's never truly over until the last shot.

  4. Teamwork - Just like most sports, your team is essential. Once you let go of the rock on your shot it is up to your team to help guide it to where you intended. Communication is vital with your teammates. Those who don't know the sport don't get what all the yelling is about. When they're yelling they're telling their teammates to sweep harder or slow up in order to guide the rock to its intended destination. Students today need teammates in the literal and metaphorical sense. We as teachers can be their teammates helping them along and eventually getting them to where they need to be. We can also be their coach and their champion.

  5. Conceding defeat - Never in any sports that I have ever watched has a loss been so gracefully handled as it is in curling. When a team feels that they are too far behind to compete any longer, they will shake hands with the opposing team to conceded defeat. This is never done with malice or ill will, generally both teams are smiling and congratulate each other on a good match. This type of example should be used by all (teachers, administrators, and students alike). Too often we all get caught up in the winning aspect that perhaps we just need to come at it from a different angle. If we conceded gracefully and move on to a different method, perhaps we can all win in the end.

  6. On a side note, if you ever have the chance go see it live! 

    Disclaimer: All photos are mine.

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