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Soccer Coaches and College Professors
March 30, 2010 - 9:31pm

Soccer is much on my mind the days, as my 13 year old is beginning her season. I've come to believe that soccer coaches have much to teach us about college teaching. What would a course look like if the model was kid's soccer as opposed to the traditional classroom experience:

1. The success of the class (the team) would be more important than the success of the individual. The professor (coach) would stress class (team) dynamics, helping each other out, supporting each other, and succeeding together. Evaluation would not be based on individual grades (goals, assists etc.), but the overall success of the class*.

*Note: Could you imagine what would happen if your kids soccer coach graded the performance of each team member? Would playing for a grade motivate the kids to play harder, work together, and win games?

2. The instructor's (coach's) role would primarily be to set-up structures and teach skills so that each student (player) can learn (perform) to the best of their abilities. The instructor (coach) discovers the strengths of each student (player), giving them tasks (positions) that they are best suited. The professor (coach) arranges class (team) sessions (practices) to improve the skills of the students (players) by actively practicing these skills. Individual coaching and mentoring is provided to each student (player), with encouragement and support coming from both the instructor (coach) and the class (players).

3. The students (players) expect that the instructor (coach) will push them hard to develop their own skills and succeed as a class (team). Students (players) will expect that discipline and hard work are necessary for the team to succeed. The instructor (coach) is the unquestioned and ultimate authority in the classroom (playing field), as it is understood that the instructor (coach) is doing everything possible for the class (team) as a whole to succeed.

Have you ever taught or taken a class where the instructor acted more like a coach than a lecturer and grader? How do you explain the gap between coaches and professors?


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