Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Teaching and Learning Teamwork

"I'm glad that people who love sports have had a good time with them. But don't ever, ever say, "This is a life lesson that you just can't learn any other way." There are no life lessons that you can't learn any other way.

And a kid who's lousy at sports but good at music or theatre or writing or videogames should get as much encouragement and honor as any athlete.

But he won't.

And that's what I hate about sports. That these physical games get treated, by kids and adults, as if they mattered more than activities that are just as valid, just as competitive, just as rewarding -- and maybe more so.

There is no excuse for athletes being more respected and honored in school than scholars. But few indeed are the high schools that provide scholars and musicians and actors and poets with anything remotely like the honor given to athletes. And it's not because athletics is harder than those other activities."

One of the top business skills out there right now is teamwork. It seems like everyone wants team players for their team. If are are going into management team building skills are in huge demand. Obviously there is a disconnect between the desire and the reality.

I want our children to learn team skills. But I've been on sports teams in the past and those are just not the skills that are needed. "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." "Taking one for the team."

My boss was a soccer coach last year and he loved the kids but hated the parents who wanted to win at all costs. This year his 8-year-old is on a team that has practice 5 days a week for at least 2.5 hours until the season starts and then it will only be 3 days for 2 hours. He complains that pro teams don't do that much practicing. But they still go. I am not sure that lessons learn there will be ones that will provide for a good and happy life.

I enjoy being part of teams. I readily admit I don't know everything or am the best at any particular skill, but with a team we multiply are skills in ways that I've never really seen in sports.
In my dorm at the university the 6 of us quickly got a reputation for "knowing everything." Between engineering, physics, chemistry, computer science and political science, we did seem to know an awful lot about all kinds of stuff. One guy even complained about us having forgotten more math then he ever learned. But still people came for help and we did what we could which often was a whole lot.

Lots of good teams I've been on haven't lasted very long, sometimes just a few hours someplace to clean up a historical site or help out at the community cannery.

One experience at the cannery was amazing. We needed to assemble the boxes to put all the cans in. A few of us went to do that job and we were all going it alone getting a box, opening it, taping it, and putting the dividers in. A few minutes of that we realized that was too slow so we formed into an assembly line and cranked out more boxes then they needed by the time the head guy came around again to see how we were doing.

There are lots of places to learn teamwork and most of them aren't sports. A band, a choir, a theater group, Ham radio club (our current project), a scout troop, or any where that a group comes together to accomplish something is all you really need and a desire to dive in and help.

We want our children to learn teamwork but sports may only be one place out of many to learn that.

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