Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Coaches are like Teachers

At the beginning of the year I posted about other options open to men other than childcare that would still see them working with children. You can view that post here.

Among those options was that of coach. Specifically sporting coach. Now there are many parallels between teaching and coaching, but one of the most striking is one I was witnessed to recently at an elite junior athletics championships.

Now let me state that I come from a position of a parent first and foremost as I was one long before becoming a teacher. However, each role influences the other. I have also been my son's coach (of sorts) when he was younger. He now receives more effective coaching.

 
 
The thing with championships such as these is that it brings out the aggressive parents and coaches. While at these meets I witness some top level coaches and passionate parents who do nothing but encourage their children, albeit quite loudly sometimes. However, all too often these people are outnumbered by the coaches and, worse still in my mind, parents who hurl abuse at these young athletes if they are not performing up to the expectations of those on the other side of the fence.
 
At the championships my son competes at the ages of the competitors usually range from 8 to 18. Now while some might say that an 18 year old should be able to handle the pressure put on their so called supporters, I beg to differ. No matter what age a person is, infant through to adult, continued and relentless pressure to succeed or meet demanding expectations can have a dramatic and long lasting affect on the individual's mental state.
 
I have witnessed far too many young person brought to tears by the actions of those who are meant to have the child's best interests at heart. While there is always going to be a competitive side to sports, junior sports in particular, even at the elite level should never lose sight of the enjoyment factor. the future of these young people's wellbeing may well be at stake.
 
Photo courtesy of Kierna from Learning for Life

 
Now we come to the title of this post. Why are coaches like teachers? Well if educators at any level are too demanding of those in their care then it too can place unnecessary burdens on young shoulders. Parents, teachers, families, educational services, communities and society in general often expect their children to be the best.
 
The thing is, even if a child can run faster, jump higher, throw further, write better, speak more eloquently, get top scores in standardized tests, meet high level selection criteria, there's no guarantee that child will be happier, smarter, more skilled than one who doesn't do quite so well in these areas.
 
Excellence is great. We celebrate it everywhere and so we should, but we shouldn't let the drive for excellence in our children destroy their childhood and even their futures. A well rounded education and development across domains is far more important, especially for younger children, than if they can count to 100 or not.
 
Don't make them jump through hoops. At least not your hoops and not if they don't want to. If hoop jumping is what they want to do than it will happen  when they are ready for it. Now stop screaming at your kid and give them a hug. it will do them far more good then any amount of lambasting.


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