Last week was my daughter’s parent’s meeting and I usually face these with fear, not because of my children underperforming or misbehaving or any other issue akin to this but because I normally have to spend the time biting my tongue and listening to how my children are not happy to being moulded into a one dimensional system that simply grooms them for the job market.
To my amazement and joy instead her teacher spent the whole time talking about how creative my daughter was, what a wonderful imagination she had but she only wished she would share it more with the group to help inspire the rest of the group to be more like her. My daughter will often write stories or dances or make up plays and the teacher has now asked that she bring them in and show the class to see if the rest of the group would bring in what they find of interest and make the whole class a better learning experience for others and that through this each child might find their passion. She then made an apology that since she has taken over the class they have spent more time in practical work and separating the class into groups and getting them to come up with their own challenges in subjects they find both interesting and also challenging. Apology, are you kidding me this sounds like classroom heaven, I asked if I could come back to school, I was not even offended when she said you are small enough to get away with it.
Last night she had to do a small piece of homework on Red Kites, the note in her homework book was remembering what we talked about today can you write a page of what you know about Red Kites? She sat there for about ten minutes writing a new song and when questioned she said I wasn’t really paying attention to what happened in class I was bored so I am not sure what to write. Now some might rush her off to the nearest behavioural clinic and diagnose her with ADHD or tell her off for not listening in class but she is 8 and cant be bothered to listen to what others know she wants to find out herself. So instead she spent the next hour and a half finding out everything she could about Red Kites on the internet copying and pasting and in the end she produced 23 pages of work. I think she could probably join the RSPB now, and is one of the UK’s leading experts in the subject. But not because of what she has been told what to do but because she has been given the freedom and inspiration to go and do it herself using the best possible tools for the job.
Can we use these tools in the coaching arena, are we there to inspire children to come up with the best results THEY can or simply replicate what the coach or manager knows? Should a coaching session be totally structured by the manager only looking for a narrow outcome or should it allow for multiple outcomes. Should we stand there at the front and tell them everything we know or do we first find out everything they know and challenge them to find out more? Do we teach new skills through detailed instruction or does can you get the ball from A to B and watch how they solve it get a better response? Most importantly what do they prefer and are all children different and can you adapt each session to allow for these differences in children? Our job like a teacher’s is to inspire the children to fall in love with the game, to want to practice and play and try new things without fear of failure or ridicule if they go wrong.
If as a coach we only allow them to do what we know we will only get replicas of what we know, if we coach a narrow outcome we will get a narrow outcome but if you allow players to come up with their own answers to exciting problems to solve you will be amazed with the results. It might be messy and chaotic and it might take some time to get results but what you will get is players who will think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions and hopefully take this into other areas of their lives.
Alternatively we can do what we have always done and get what we have always got.