I have a question – What was the most important lesson you learned as a kid? How and where did it happen?
I thought about this for quite a while and realized for me, it happened on the golf course.
The most important lesson I learned was the concept of mentor ship, and my affinity for working with young people. I was 17 years old, and our local golf course no longer had a Junior golf coordinator. To make sure we still had a golf program, I took the job on and with some help from one of our Senior golfers, we did the best we could to keep the program going. With no club pro, I often ended up on the driving range working with some of our younger players trying my best to coach them about the game and teach them the proper way to swing the club.I wasn’t a qualified golf pro, but I was there and willing to help.
I remember one day specifically I was working on the driving range with a young guy who was having trouble getting the ball off the ground. We worked on his stance, adjusted his grip a little and made sure he was keeping his head down. All of a sudden, he caught one perfectly and the ball went soaring into the air a good 100 yards down the driving range. He swung around quickly, with his jaw dropped open and yelled “Did you see that!?” I remember right at that moment, I was hooked. I had known for some time I wanted to go into education, but right then and there I knew I was making the right decision.
When I think of a few of the other big lessons I learned as a kid: Leadership, Teamwork, Responsibility, Honesty, most of them did not occur in a Math or English class, they happened outside of the classroom. I wonder how many people really made the decision about their future career while sitting in a classroom? When it came to leadership and teamwork, I learned about that on the basketball court. Its often my argument when I defend the importance of school sports, that I learned a great deal because of my time on a school sports team. When it came to responsibility, I learned it working at my family’s restaurant, especially during those times when I got to help my Grandmother out.
So what am I saying? Well first of all, this is proof that learning occurs all the time and everywhere. That is a good thing, and something we as educators should embrace and show our students that learning isn’t just something that happens at school. The other thing it shows, in my opinion, is that we are spending too much time on concepts and skills that maybe don’t apply to our students future as much as other lessons would. I know this is when someone then says “How can we prepare our students for a future we can’t predict?”. I don’t care what the future holds, I can’t for one second believe that lessons like leadership, responsibility, teamwork and honesty will ever become obsolete. If we start looking to incorporate this kind of thinking into our teaching we will start to see more of a connection between what we teach and what our students need in their futures.
‘I don’t see how it’s doing society any good to have its members walking around with vague memories of algebraic formulas and geometric diagrams, and clear memories of hating them.’ (emphasis mine) ~ Paul Lockhart
I believe the same could be said for memories of grammar and punctuation, memorizing historical dates, or writing chemical formulas. When our lessons speak to character, they last a lifetime, and not because our students will look back with disdain but rather because they may have learned their most important lesson from us.