Building Work Ethic in Students

Things have been quite busy with grad school lately, but I do keep up with what’s going on in education.  I just don’t have much time to write a whole lot about it.  One of my old professors, who feeds me a lot of good info, sent me an interesting article:

For Students Raised on iPods, Lessons in Bridge

My reaction:

Interestingly enough, for my basketball players, it took the experience of losing their first game 66-12 to before they would even listen to the head coach and myself.  They finally realized that they couldn’t do it alone.  From that point forward, they were much easier to coach.  And especially so when we started experiencing a mix of success and failure.  They could see how harder work led to better game-time performance.

I really believe that one of the keys to low-income education is activities, whether they be basketball, bridge, or something else.  I saw major improvements in work ethic inside and outside of the classroom in the basketball players I coached and taught.  It made me conclude that most people probably learn to connect hard work to success through sports, hobbies, and other activities.  Video games may be helpful to an extent, but they don’t teach kids the apprenticeship role that would most transferable to the classroom.  Kids need to learn to teamwork and the value of learning from people who have experience.  The students I taught that had outside activities were noticeably more disciplined and self-motivated.

Unfortunately, when basketball season ended, the old behaviors came back.  To me, this just says that one season of basketball isn’t enough to change deeply ingrained habits.  From this, I conclude that students really need overlapping activities, year-round, to constantly reinforce the hard-work/success connection.

For schoolwork, that connection just isn’t immediate enough for kids.  You don’t win or lose based on your math skills until you find out what colleges you got into.  By then, it’s way too late.