Don’t teach, coach!

July 14, 2010

Photo: Glen Lewis

What I do is closer to coaching than teaching. My hero is Syracuse University Hall of Fame basketball coach, Jim Boeheim.

For over thirty years I’ve watched his “tough-love” style of coaching make winning teams. I appreciate the way he yanks a player out of the game immediately after a dumb move, gets right in their face and tells them what they should have done, a wonderful teaching moment. He is a master at getting the most out of all his players.

In practice coaches put their students in situations that closely resemble the actual competition. This gives them every opportunity to mess up and learn from their mistakes yet also encourages them to take risks. It can be a little messy and unpredictable but so is design.

Example: We don’t grade anything until the bitter end. This allows the student to redo a project that may have been trashed in a critique. They can redo a project as many times as they want. We will only grade the final revision, noting the student’s effort and progress to improve the quality of the project.  They must be very careful about time management, robbing Peter to pay Paul, because the new projects shout for attention too.

Learn by your mistakes and make better failures. We love to say and our apologies to Nike, “Just re-do it!”

(This is an excerpt from the paper presented at the 2010 UCDA Education Summit at Lawrence KS by William Padgett)

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