What Are We Really Teaching Them?

What are we really teaching kids? What are we really teaching hockey players? I’ve in the teaching profession for just over two decades and I coached several sports during that time and things have definitely changed over that time period.  I’m not the be all end all of teaching, I’m certainly not the be all end all of hockey analysis or scouting, but I’ve certainly observed a few things over my time in both areas. Just the other day, I started class with a question that I’ve been asking a lot of kids over the past few years.

Have any teachers ever taught you how to study?

The consensus answer is NO.

So as high school teachers, we always just assume they know how to study or know how to do this or that. As high school teachers it’s drilled into us that we have to prepare kids for the real world, prepare them for post-secondary learning, the work force and beyond.  I love my job, I’m passionate about my job and helping kids, that’s why I started teaching in the first place, but let’s get something very clear, we can’t assume, we can’t assume anything anymore. Just like the game of hockey, we can’t assume a player or draft eligible prospects knows something unless “we” teacher or coach teach it, explain it or show it.

I’m trying to shift the focus in my classroom from “studying” or as most do “memorize” to understanding, applying, explaining and ultimately learning. In my opinion that’s how learning gets done.

If the student can take the content that you are sharing, understand it, apply it and explain it then they are definitely learning, they aren’t memorizing it, they are putting their own thoughts, emotions and experiences to it. That’s learning in my books.

Now everyone will have their own definition of learning, but if a student can understand, apply and explain the content being covered then that’s showing definite mastery of it. If the highly touted prospect can go out on the ice and continue to perform, grow in all areas and execute under the rigors of the game and find a new gear while applying what’s taught, wouldn’t you say that’s learning the game?

It goes back to the lifelong question that we have all hated as kids which is still being asked by parents all over the world. “What did you learn in school today?”

Well, what did you learn in school today? In this day and age, that’s a pretty damn valid question.

Do hockey parents ask that when their kid gets in the car after practice or a game?

Probably not, because the parents are usually watching or bringing their own experiences or observations into the equation.

The parent doesn’t know what their son or daughter are learning in school because they aren’t there, they aren’t watching it, that’s why the lines of communication always have to be open, honest and transparent, just think if the lines of communication were that open when it came to the game of hockey.

Getting back to the question I asked my students about studying, about two or three kids per class raised their hand. I then tell them about learning styles, how everyone learns differently, then we talk about short term and long-term memory and how the brain works.  Then we talk about reading over their notes  a little bit every day and how if they can explain the content they have learned it becomes almost natural to recall it and discuss it.

Young hockey players need to be learning something new every day, not new moves or plays or systems, but new experiences. For the player they need to be able to apply the knowledge they learn from their experiences in practice and all the way up the ranks  into the game situations.

The real test for the player is the game, the next level. Obviously, the real test for the students is just that, “test day”.

What are we really teaching kids these days?  I continue to ask that question every day. In my opinion, it’s making me a better teacher, hopefully it’s making the kids in front me better students?

What’s the true purpose of the teacher, what’s the true purpose of the coach? What are we really teaching them?

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