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Long Term Success

Long Term Success

Research done in the 60’s and 70’s at Stanford using marshmallows showed conclusively that delayed gratification led to long term success. The immediacy of eating one marshmallow quickly ended up being a detriment to the subject as opposed to the subject who waited and ate two. More times than not research shows that waiting for a goal, and working towards a goal is much better for the child than an immediate reward. That try for a short term victory may come back to haunt a coach, player, and team in the long run.

Resilience as defined by Pediatrician Kenneth Ginsburgh, allows kids to “tap into” their creativity.  Teaching the kids to play together and help each other would seem to be way more beneficial in the long run.

The “didactic” approach - where we tell our students and athletes what to do, how to do it, and when to do it - seems counterproductive to long term success. Nancy Carlson Paige from the University of Cambridge says “kids sit at tables and copy letters. It’s heartbreaking.” Regurgitation is not learning. Although some structure is needed it certainly seems the best for students and athletes to learn is by making mistakes and being given repeated chances to learn how to cope.

I used to start out one of my classes each day with the students writing their name with the opposite hand. It got lots of laughs. BUT they learned, over time to become better at writing with their opposite hand. I taught them balance, and let them internalize its benefits. The students and athletes need time to get better without the pressure imposed by adults and testing to acquire skills in a safe balanced environment.

One of my favorite expressions is “It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of your time and annoys the hell out of the pig!” Patience and embracing the fact that they are kids and not mini-adults seems to be the key to unlocking long term success in and out of the classroom.

University of North Florida Professor Rebecca Marcon states, “Children’s development may have been slowed by overly formal academic preschool. Six year old children may not be cognitively ready for all that is coming at them in and out of the classroom.” Jay Gield from the University of California says that active explanation is better for 7 and 8 year olds than didactic rote.

We need to have our children receive age appropriate learning cycles and not pre-programmed testing that only reduces their ability to understand and internalize information.

Written by : Jennifer