Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sports and Schools

The  NY Times has a column here on the military's prep schools, that were originally funded to help enlisted personnel qualify for the academies, but are now used almost exclusively to red-shirt athletes.

I agree completely with Mr. Nocera on the outsized role of athletics in colleges, including the military academies.

But here’s another take-away.  Our culture loves sports. Let’s use that love to improve  schools.

When I taught classes of high school students who hated reading, I filled my room with boxes full of old Sports Illustrated magazines, that I bought on Ebay.  When we had quiet reading time, you could hear a pin drop.  Most of the boys, and many of the girls, were hunched breathlessly over the magazines.  The only time I ever had students arguing was when I brought in a new issue:  everyone wanted to read it immediately.

I found game-playing of any kind immediately sparked up a class.  I appointed judges for poetry presentations.  Groups vied with each other for writing the best stories.  We had Oprah shows, with invited guests such as the Wife of Bath, with her new book, How to Control Men.

A major problem with the Common Core Standards is that they are making teaching, and classrooms, dreary.  So much content to force down kids’ throats.  Some Common Core curriculum even dictates exactly what and how the teacher is to spend each classroom minute. 

Good learning doesn’t take place under that regime, and good teachers leave.

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