If you are a parent, a teacher, a coach, a mentor, an educator, a student, or an athlete, there are words that are thrown around far too often and far too easily with no real definition of their meaning. Winning. Success. Teach. Learn. Each word conjures up some image in what we do that tells some that the word or idea has been achieved. Trophies. 100’s. A’s. Money. Smiles. Love. Whatever that image is for you, it may not be the image that someone else sees or agrees with. And that person may be the one who gets to decide if it is enough. That leads to confusion, doubt, stress, fear, and yes, LOSING. FAILURE. IGNORANCE. DOUBT.
What brings this to mind is a gathering of coaches, educators, students, teachers, parents, athletes, and supporters who all seemed to be on different pages when dealing with the meaning of the words WINNING, SUCCESS, TEACHING, LEARNING. Even within the same title (coach, for instance) the word winning has different meanings and priorities than one would think. Winning for some coaches is the pay day, or the title, or the game, or even the day the young person moves on happily and prepared for their next coach, game, or team. If there are two players out of a hundred who play at the next level in your program, does that mean the coach succeeded or failed 98 %? Did the athletes become more prepared to contribute to life in their community? Are they in good standing with themselves and others? Is there joy in the games played, or are the games masks for discontent and fear? Do the athletes know why they are playing? Do the coaches?
For parents, WINNING can not be the end goal. Or can it? Is winning of greater importance than love, or learning, or success? As a parent, the priority might be happiness of their child, the experience of their child, or it can be the journey in which the winning and losing takes them on.
For teachers, is the focus TEACHING, or is it loving? Is there a concrete measurement for the growth of the child under the teachers watch and guidance? Is success in teaching the number of A students, or is it the improvement of the former D AND F students into B and c students? Is it the positive impact on the community, or is it about the constant flow and exchange of knowledge and information? Is success in the act, or the result? Is winning in the process or the end?
For the athletes and students, it would be incredibly helpful to know what winning, succeeding, learning, and loving are truly about. It would make sense for them to know what the focus and priority is, and is not. It would be great to know that these things are relative, temporary, and simple when known. If 1% of athletes deem playing professionally, or in college, as success, the definition of success and failure better be known in advance. If students do not achieve whatever academic goals they deem as such, they should also know the success in their pursuit.
For the educators, what is the measurement for success, winning, teaching, and learning? Is it the number of young people processed through the system, or the number of prepared for living as an adult young people who happily walk out of the schools doors into the world?
I ask questions in hopes of reaching the place in your brain that speaks directly. I ask questions in hopes of reaching the place in your heart that speaks honestly. I ask questions in hopes that someone dares answer the questions for the good of us all. We can not make things better if we do not know why we are doing what we are doing. For clarity sake, there is no wrong answer. Each thing clears a path to know why things are the way that they are. Hopefully, the answers make things better than before. That should be why we are here.
Here are the questions at hand”
What is the priority of education? scholastic sports ? athletics ?
What is the purpose of coaching? What is the greatest result that coaching can achieve? Who is the greatest responsibility to for any coach?
What is winning for the athlete? Who wins if the athlete wins? What is losing? Who loses if the athlete loses?
What is the purpose of teaching? What is the greatest result that teaching can achieve? Who is the greatest responsibility to for any teacher?
What is success for the student? Who succeeds if the student succeeds? What is failure? Who fails if the student fails?
What is the dream for parents? What is the greatest result that parents can achieve? Who is the greatest responsibility to for any parent? What is success for the.parent? Who wins if the parent wins? What is parental failure? Who fails if the parents fail?
I hope that we can begin to define the why and what of these questions so that we can get to the HOW?