Golf, a Metaphor for School (and life)

I have been golfing a lot lately.  It is a way to recharge my batteries in the summer, and besides, it is good exercise.  My golf game is a lot like everything else in my life, I like to analyze it and try to make it better (my poor children).  I have been tweaking my swing and have really concentrated on rolling my wrists and occasionally “slapping my wrists” for more power.  Now, when I mess with my swing, inevitably I end up really struggling with my game for awhile and the other day was no exception.  My brother-in-law (bless him for putting up with me) and I went on a all-you-can-play-for-one-price outing the other day.  The day started bad and got worse.  I was lucky to hit the ball in the right direction and more than 40 yards.  We analyzed what was wrong and decided I was leaving the face of my club open on every shot.  Simple fix.  Close the face. Turn the wrists.  I did this, over and over and over, to the point where I was taking a 1/4 swing at the ball and was still missing for the most part.  Very aggravating to say the least!  I struggled for 34 straight holes.  Then, by some minor miracle, or as my brother-in-law says, “even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while,” I started realizing that my problem was my take away and back swing, not how I was holding my club at the point of contact.  I had been short arming my shots all day as a by product of the latest tweak to my swing.  The last two holes I hit the ball well (for me anyway).   I was happy to be hitting the ball well, but frustrated to have spent 34 holes doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  What is my point you ask?  We are doing the same thing with our education system.  We have over analyzed what we are doing and are concentrating on doing things that will not really make our system better.  When our test scores are not good, we decide to spend more time prepping for tests and to take more tests.  Sounds like me trying to make sure my club head was straight at impact when it really did not matter what I did until I fixed my back-swing.  We have to fix what we are doing with our students before measuring how they do matters.  We can get “on par” with where we want to be, but we need find the real issue that is causing our schools to fail.  Focusing on student engagement, using the tools available today and creating a community of learners matter much more than test prep and testing.

Picture courtesy of kulicki on Flickr

2 thoughts on “Golf, a Metaphor for School (and life)

  1. Great points here, Dave. I have been taking some golf lessons and have been amazed at how the feedback my instructor gives me, broken into tiny tiny little chunks based precisely on what he sees when he watches my swing, has moved me along tremendously in a short time. Another lesson for us as we work with students, don’t you think?


  2. Shannon,
    Yes! Feedback is essential and you have made the point that it needs to be timely and specifically focused for it to have any lasting impact on learning and growing. Thanks for stopping by!


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