A great deal of my free time lately has been consumed with my son’s entry into the world of Little League baseball. He is five years old and is starting in the first level which is a coach-pitch league. I believe that we can learn a few things about schools from Little League.
Everyone plays all positions
Every player gets a chance to play every spot on the diamond from the catcher to left field. This gives all of the kids a chance to try something new and see where they fit with the team. We need to give our students a chance to try anything and everything we can in order for them to find what fits for them. If we tell them to be a first baseman, they may never find out they would be a hall of fame short stop.
Kids root for each other
As I was standing and watching the kids take batting practice it was painfully obvious that many had never picked up a bat before. Rather than getting down on these kids, the rest of the players were cheering these kids on and supporting their efforts. How much do we see this in schools when we often pit kids against each other? I am in favor of some levels of competition, but not at the expense of such positive peer support. How often do we see kids being put down due to athletic, academic, or social inadequacies?
If you sit through one single practice you will hear the phrase, “good job” several hundred times. Every time a player tries to make a catch or attempts a throw, a coach is there encouraging every step of the way. Especially at this initial level, the players are expected to not know what they are doing. They are learning and there is no punishment for not doing something perfectly. Again, how can we do this in our classrooms? Are we saying, “good job” enough?
Kids are learning how to play a game and having fun doing it. They are learning new skills such as how to catch a pop fly and how to run the bases. The coaches have done a great job creating games to help the kids learn and remember these skills. While I am not suggesting we turn everything in school into a game, but can we do more to make it enjoyable? Kids and adults alike engage more in activities that are fun and we tend to learn better that way as well.
How can we make school just a bit more like Little League?