Football isn’t easy, so that’s why teams practice the same few plays over and over and over. And the repetition only ends when everyone gets it right.
Players who blow a blocking assignment or drop a pass in football practice cause everyone to do it again, so teammates try to encourage the singled-out player to do it well. Some will offer suggestions. Others will help him accomplish the task. If he can’t get it right, the coach might order everyone to dogpile the guy, or make the whole team run to Ohio and back.
But when he gets it right, the coach is happy, the team is happy, and the kid is happy because mastering that skill makes the whole team a more formidable opponent for the next game.
Meanwhile, over in the classroom, the same child might struggle to learn percentages. The teacher will work with the kid, and friends will help, but at a certain point, the classroom is less “No Child Left Behind” and more “Every Child for Themselves.” That means he’s on his own. And even if he understands percentages enough to pass, no one cares if he can figure out percentages by the time you get home.
While coaches are considered educators, they have done things their way on the field or the court while teachers stuck to the more traditional methods of teaching. And while sports coaches often use the techniques forged in classrooms, such as memorizing plays, math, analysis of opponents, it’s never been a two-way street.
Businesses have studied successful sports organizations and learned from them. The nation’s best coaches have become regular speakers on the corporate convention circuit, and sports parlance is a standard part of the modern office. But the nation’s classrooms have continued to teach in the same abstract fashion.
Brooks, scheduled to open this fall in the campus being vacated by Cornerstone Schools on Vance Jackson, wants to change that. Starting with K-10 and adding upper levels in upcoming years, the school use an innovative educational template called Sports Leadership And Management, or SLAM, to both lure and teach students.
Teachers will be known as academic coaches. The middle school will be divided into three academies: Sports Science, Sports Business, and Sports Media. The overarching theme of nearly every class will be sports if it makes sense. A journalism class might, for example, be a Sports Reporting class.
But the real sports-themed undercurrent, says principal Nammie Ichilov, goes beyond nomenclature and will be in the art of teaching. With no dogpiling or all of that running, obviously.
Traditionally, teachers want students to master concepts, and that’s it. Brooks teachers will do more.
“If the ultimate goal of being able to calculate percentages is to be able,” Ichilov said, “when purchasing something, to figure out how much to tip at a good restaurant or what the percentage of a discount at a store. Most kids who learn percentages in school couldn’t solve the task at hand.
“That’s not good enough.”
That means, for example, that after a test on percentages at Brooks, students might be handed a wad of restaurant receipts, brochures, and handouts from various retail outlets and ask to figure out how much is saved or how much a price is discounted. When Ichilov was a math teacher, he’d take his geometry classes to a construction site to show how geometrical shapes in action in house building.
Brooks Collegiate Academy will incorporate the concept that a great athlete tries to make his teammates better and understands the whole team wins if everyone wins.
“We believe all children are innately competitive,”Ichilov said. “If given an opportunity, they will want to rise to the top of their potential and challenge. There’s a certain level of desire to excel that we are all born with and which society tends to downplay that or manipulate that or shift that or redirect it into an area that isn’t productive.”
“Society,” he continued, “has turned it into a dog eat dog world. The greatest athletes, however, realize it’s about raising themselves to the best they can while helping to get the best out of those around them.”
Sounds like a good team, doesn’t it?