Today I was working at the school helping in the concession for a tournament. At one point a went to go check out the game that was on and as I walked into the foyer a scene that was unfolding caught my eye. A coach and a player deep in conversation, the player was upset so I could only assume their team had lost. As I watched this interaction I could not help but wonder what they were talking about specifically. Was the coach building the player up or tearing them down? Was there coaching going on or condemnation. Is the fact that I lean more to the latter in both questions a sign of being cynical or accepting the reality? Have we forgotten what is important? Have we lost the plot?
The first time I heard “lost the plot” I chuckled. I thought it was a clever way to express confusion or misunderstanding. As I consider the events of the world both macro and micro I can’t help but think we may have indeed lost the plot. Here are just a few examples.
There are arguments to revert back to the instruction of times past, where students will work through drill like practice without the ability to explore the wonderful opportunities choice novels bring. We have shifts moving back to a text book driven curriculum without the freedom to pursue what interests students and drives their inquiry. What is school for? Have we lost the plot?
This has been a big one for me lately. I was raised that coaching sports was to build kids up, to coach them up, to teach them. I also was taught to respect my coaches. My dad is a coach among all the other titles he holds. He is the best coach I have ever known. Those who played for him, their families, we are family. Still to this day I see posts about “Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior” Our team name. My Dad was always an example of what I wanted to be when I “grew up”. As a teacher he was masterful and students loved his class, as a coach he is highly respected across the Province and known elsewhere as one of the most sportsmanlike coaches who helped his team be recognized as the most sportsmanlike team in our league. I always bristled at the experience of coaches that didn’t live up to the standard that had been set for me. The ones who yelled and screamed at their players, that used humiliation as some perverse form of motivation. I find it and see it more and more. For heaven’s sake I have received two technical fouls since living here in two years of coaching without even a warning all the years of coaching I did prior. I don’t blame the community I just think we are all forgetting what is important. It seems more and more we value winning games over developing kids, we are more worried about what the community thinks than what the kids think and even more importantly feel. What is coaching for? Have we lost the plot?
What is really important?
If you were to base your opinions of education on the bulk of EduTwitter you would value Kindness over Equity. You would think the biggest concerns most teachers have is to make school more fun. You would think that cute is better than meaningful and you would think those who talk about things such as the work of Antiracism, those who advocate for equality and those who speak out against the oppressive systems that harm so many of our children are just focusing on the negatives and with small individual actions you can change the world. Of course, this is not true but it is easy. I ask again, Have we lost the plot?
So how do we stick to the plot? How do we avoid going off track. A friend of mine use to teach her students in third grade to stick to their map when writing a story. She drew a path that wound through a forest and the kids discussed how wandering off the path and into the forest would keep them from their goal.
We let so much distract us, pride, ease, comfort. But these things are just the forest. They are distractions that pull us off the path and eventually we forget out why. We can forget that this work we do is for our students. I don’t remember sitting in University or doing my student teaching and ever thinking, “One day I am going to post videos to Twitter about how amazing a teacher I am” I don’t remember thinking about becoming famous on Instagram for a cute classroom or making six figures selling things on teachers pay teachers. I remember the students though. I remember the dreams I had and still have to positively impact my students lives, teaching them and hoping that the work we do together will make a difference.
Big Goals, Start Small, Stick to the Path. This is the goal.