Monday, October 15, 2012

From the Golf Course to the Classroom: A Simple Reflection

This past weekend, I had a real learning experience. In the course of 3 days, I played 5 rounds of golf while away on a golf weekend. Golf is a passion of mine and is always a learning experience. This was my first golf weekend and was the most golf I have played in such a short period of time. As I play golf, I am always learning lessons that can be applied to life (and education).

Lesson #1 - Creativity can overcome any obstacle.
Throughout the weekend, I found my golf ball behind a tree, in a bunker where a bad shot would lead to a water ball, and much more. A normal shot just would not do, so I had to be creative by hitting a hooking shot or using my putter out of a bunker (yes that actually happened). The course provides many obstacles but the goal is the same...get the ball in the hole. In education, things are the same way. Students are going to have difficulties and situations that are going to get in their way. They need to learn how to creatively solve their problems so they can reach their goal. The path they take to learning might not be the planned route because certain obstacles just might be in their way. We need to encourage our students to solve their problems by thinking outside the box while seeing the end goal.

Lesson #2 - Failure is going to happen, embrace it and learn from it.
My golfing skills are average at best. I know that I will have some good holes and then I will have some really bad holes too. I embrace the fact that I am going to fail on the golf course. But to improve, I have to embrace my failures and learn from them. By learning from them, I can hope to not make the same mistake twice. This will lead to more success in the future. Learning is the same way. We need to prepare our students for failure, how to cope with it, and how to grow from it. With lessons learned from failure, students can apply this to their future learning and ultimately be more successful. If we do not teach our students how to deal with adversity and failure, we are depriving them of a valuable life lesson.

Lesson #3 - Acknowledge your surroundings and adapt to them for success.
This weekend, golf was played in sunny conditions, in a heavy rain storm, 45 mph winds, and everything in between. We had no control over the elements and so we adjusted to them. If you did not adjust to what was happening around you, you were doomed to not play as well. In education, students deal with different surroundings everyday. Every classroom has a different feel to it, different routines, different peers. To be successful, students need to make subtle adjustments to be successful. The skill of flexibility is something that students need to have for success.

I could go on and on because golf has so many connections to learning and life, so let's get to the is a passion of mine. When you have a passionate about something, you could talk about the subject all day. In the classroom, every subject is not going to be a passion for all students. To make those subjects more interesting, we need to find those connections between our students' passions and the content being learned. Those connections can lead to greater understanding and hopefully more student learning/achievement.

Find those connections today and foster that environment into your classroom. Pretty soon your students might start making connects between their passions and their learning just like I have done with golf and education.

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