Thursday, November 20, 2014

Edublogger: The Value of Losing

I recently read a post by edublogger Elonga Hartjes in which she wrote about losing at sports can help children's emotional intelligence (you can find it here). She spoke on how kids' emotional intelligence can grow in a number of ways through losing, three of which are "managing one's own impulses, having empathy for others, and communicating effectively." Upon reading the whole post I felt that I could not agree more. As someone who grew up playing sports, I feel like I have had my fair share of learning experiences through losing at sports. Granted, I didn't lose all the time, but I didn't win all the time either.

The gist of Ms. Hartjes's post reminded me of something many of my coaches growing up said, "You learn more about yourself in a lose then you do in a win." It seems the sentiment of growing from a lose is pretty prevalent in the sporting world, but I am not so sure it is in education. Many students get upset with a bad test grade, but I don't know if they take the time to look in address where they went wrong in a more metacognitive sense, thus a student might not grow in emotional intelligence. Perhaps learning from failure is more prevalent in the sporting world because at every practice an athlete is doing the something. For example, a quarterback knows that tomorrow at practice and at the game on the weekend he is going to be throwing a football. He deals with the same content week in and week out. In this sense an athlete can focus in a more metacognitive nature because the only thing variable is how he or she reacts. A student however is presented with new content almost everyday. In this situation the content is constantly changing giving the student less mental breathing room to instinctively look back at their approach to the content as an athlete would. With this thinking I conclude by believing in the importance of metacognition for a student, something that has been stressed in my teacher training program.

So, with this being said I think about how we can bring this attitude more fully into the classroom. One could allow for retake tests or things of the nature, but does a retake test get to the crux of an issue on metacognition? I don't think it necessarily does. How would a teacher incorporate building metacognition into something like a test retake? Maybe the answer is to implement building metacognition into everyday teaching, but most of what I have learned on teaching metacognition deals with things like reading and writing. How can it be incorporated into losing in the classroom? These are the things I wonder.

1 comment:

  1. Carl, I'm glad that Elonga's posting was generative for you, and I think the sports-schooling connection is worth exploring. What are the equivalents of wins and losses in the classroom? Is it at all useful to think in those terms? I think that it is, chiefly because there's an authenticity to what takes place on the sports field that we would be well-served to TRY to capture and bring into our classrooms. So, what is a "loss" in a classroom context? A bad grade? Of course not, right? Though for most kids, that would be the first (only?) response? So what is a true loss, and how can we make our thinking about this explicit so that the kids can think differently about the question. It's probably a loss if the kids don't take their work seriously, and maybe we can influence that by figuring out ways to acknowledge that WE do. For that matter, and "A" is great, but it's probably not our most resonant "win." What is, and how can we make a space to talk about, model, and honor what we truly would consider to be a win?
    This is a great challenge that you've laid out, Carl....lots of good stuff to think about.