I’m told it was Bobby Knight who said “I’m so old school that I’m new school.” Although the Bobby Knights of the coaching world may never come back completely, there does seem to be more and more research coming out that discredits much of what we would consider “New School.” And that’s a good thing.
Do these statements sound familiar?
- “I would be so much better if my coach wasn’t such a jerk.”
- “I quit because my coach criticized me too much.”
- “They really should do away with tryouts and cuts and just let everyone participate.”
- “If we don’t give every kid a trophy then there will be a lot of upset kids.”
- “The primary role of a youth coach should be to raise self-esteem and confidence.”
- “Our league does not keep score because we just emphasize fun.”
Have I gotten your blood pressure up? Mine is up just typing them!
In the 1960’s there was a new movement/perspective in psychology called Humanism. The gurus of all this were Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. In a nutshell, humanism is the belief that individuals are all inherently good and need to have a supportive, nurturing environment in which to grow and reach their full potential (they called it “self-actualization”). There is a lot more to humanism but my point in bringing it up is that today we are seeing the ugly cousin of the humanistic movement.
In education, child psychology, and in youth sports, humanism has led (in my opinion) to the type of statements listed above. Basically, the idea is “if a nurturing environment is needed for me to reach my full potential … and I wasn’t able to reach my full potential … then I must have been surrounded by un-nurturing people. Therefore, my lack of success isn’t my fault!”
See the connection?
As I said earlier, new research is beginning to discredit this humanistic style that has permeated schools and athletic fields across America. One such study concluded that telling your kid how wonderful and special they are all the time is counterproductive. The data said these kids are less likely to take healthy risks to stretch/challenge themselves and even engage in more cheating type behaviors. Evidence also indicates that trying to pump self-esteem into kids in order to get them to achieve is pretty much a waste also. Some elementary schools are starting to offer “grit points” or “grit money” to kids who show resolve and other forms of mental toughness. That’s a good sign.
Sometimes trends like this take time to work their way through society. The humanistic approach started in the 1960’s but didn’t really catch on until the 70’s and 80’s so don’t count on new data to change things overnight.
However, I think slowly but surely, America will start to turn around and return to what many of our parents and coaches knew – self-esteem and confidence NEVER arrive before achievement. Our best coaches and teachers never cared about our self-esteem or confidence. They cared about results. They pushed us – and yes, hurt our feelings at times – because they knew we were capable of more and would not accept mediocrity.
Hang in there folks! I think the-times-are-a-changin’!
Tomorrow’s post: The myth of the cross-over step in base running