Successful athletes are persistent; they ask questions and they listen to coaches and teammates; they reflect on their performances and they are willing to take responsible risks. They are flexible thinkers and continuous learners. From a successful student-athlete perspective then, does success in the sporting arena automatically mean success in the classroom?
What boots do you wear? TM explores a method of helping students in our schools who face difficulties in their academic pursuits. My friend Art Costa wrote in his 2008 book The School as a Home for the Mind, that learning is as valid a goal for the
at-risk, the handicapped, the disadvantaged and the foreign speakers as it is for the gifted and talented. @whatboots I also believe that all children are capable of success. What’s more, my hope is that with a little help from school staff, students might develop their ability to independently achieve success. I don’t proclaim to have ‘the’ answer, but I do offer this consultancy to educators as a way to increase the intellectual power of those students for whom learning remains a valid, if uncertain goal.
What boots do you wear? TM is not a question about shoes. It is a question about success. It asks whether you have, or can develop, the necessary mindset to be successful in each and every endeavour. What boots do you wear? TM is about previous experience. It is about Habits of Mind. It is about transfer. And it is about
combining all three…for successful outcomes. In particular, What boots do you wear? TM focuses on sporting involvement and physical activity. Sport plays an important part in the lives of many children. In fact, I suggest that the majority of adolescents on the planet have been involved in some form of physical activity during their young lives, most of it unstructured and imaginative during their formative years.
I believe these early forays provide a wealth of knowledge and learning experience
which necessitates deliberate and mindful problem solving. Habits of Mind are the key to improved performances. My consultancy will examine the extent to which student athletes can transfer valuable learning and mindful behaviours from their sporting endeavours to their academic contexts to aid their learning. Of course having the disposition toward acting intelligently and choosing to employ one or more Habits of Mind in the face of difficulty will go a long way to earning that success.
But does success on the sporting field automatically mean success in the classroom? The answer to this question lies in the concept of transfer. Normally transfer is considered in terms of acquiring knowledge and then being able to transfer that knowledge to a new situation, or being able to call on a strategy employed in a previous, similar situation. However, What boots do you wear? TM questions
whether students can recognise opportunities to transfer their learning and
successful use of Habits of Mind from previous sporting experiences, to their current classroom learning as a way to achieve success in their academic pursuits. Whilst conceptually quite different, there are similar mental requirements within sporting and classroom tasks and goals.
The ability to transfer successful problem-solving strategies inter-contextually can benefit all students. However it is the students who are less easily able to master content who can benefit from various strategies in order to overcome difficulties. Given that learning is a valid goal for all, how do we as educators ensure we are helping our students to fulfil that goal and further their intellectual potential? Are we doing enough to help them succeed? After all, with success comes confidence. From confidence comes competence. With competence comes independence.
Transfer planning could be mistaken for daydreaming…
Students who sit at the back of the classroom and stare out the window might not actually be wasting their time. Granted, many of them are dreaming of being out on the court, field or track rather than listening to the teacher explaining the latest assessment task. However some of them might be reflecting on those sporting experiences and searching for a Habit of Mind which they could apply to the current, pressing concern in the classroom. Some of them might in fact be independently transferring their learning from one context to another. How empowering would that be?
Are we as educators looking outside the present ‘box’ for ways to help our students
to become more successful problem solvers? If so, then fantastic. Go…go…go! If
not, then perhaps it is we who should be asking ourselves what boots WE wear.
This image encapsulates the ethos of 'whatboots' in that sport and academia should be seen as related, rather than disparate pursuits. I believe that by drawing more on the sporting involvement of our students, educators can encourage their use of problem solving strategies, their Habits of Mind, to better attend to their current academic tasks. I believe success in the sporting arena can in fact lead to success in the classroom.
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