Quality Learning and Teaching

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“Thinking Sport and Education”

This page will explore the links sport has with learning, teaching and systems thinking.

11th December 2013

This acronym was shared with me today.  I quite liked it. It’s probably been around forever but this was a netball coach who used this as a way of getting the team to work together.





It reminds me of a video I once watched of a grade 2 student who was asked what he liked best about his classroom. His response was, “Our whole class puts an effort in and works together to do things”. When asked to expand on this, the student said, “Well, if one person doesn’t understand something they will ask someone else and if they don’t know they will ask someone else. The class will work as a team to find what the other person doesn’t know”. Fairly simple really, but it does show that we can achieve more if we do work together for a common goal. Excuse the pun.

16th August 2013

Don’t let grades get in the way of real learning.

Feedback can be really effective if it is relevant, timely and focused on learning.  Grades, on the other hand, can really get in the way of learning and sets up a judgement and competition, taking the focus away from improvement and learning. This short video presents a scenario, through a football story, to show how this can happen.


2nd June 2013

The demise of Melbourne Football Club

Links to System Thinking: Melbourne Football club is having an extremely bad year. They go from one loss to another, 100 point thumping have become the norm. This week there will be a meeting and the media are predicting that the coach will be sacked. This video, however, recorded some 20 years ago of Russell Ackoff explains that by just changing this part of the system will not bring about the solution to the problem…it is the interactions of each part of the system that needs to be worked on.

Link to education: Often it is the teacher that gets the blame for students not making the expected process, like the sporting team, it is the interaction of each part of the system that needs to be worked on…leadership support, induction, professional learning, resources, family partnerships.

19th May 2013, Cadel Evans

“In Mendrisio I felt it – the exhilaration of what the bike has to offer. It’s a simple machine that conjures a vast mix of emotions. It can evoke the senses and raise the spirits of people who watch. For those who ride it can seem like the perfect vehicle for transport. For those who race, there’s no better sensation than being on top of your gear making mountains feel like flat roads. Cycling throws up plenty of obstacles, unknown territory, high speed split-second considerations. Where to next? What’s around the next corner? Who cares? You’re flyin’!”

CADEL EVANS, Close to Flying
Link to Systems Thinking:  Cadel is talking, I think about the outcome of the outcome of the system.  If looked at superficially, the bike might just provide the output of getting a person from point A to point B, but when in the hands of a bike racer, where the goal is very different, the output and the outcome is very different.
Link to Education: This sounds like the ultimate for learning.  When rich and exciting learning is taking place, it doesn’t matter what challenges are being thrown at you, it doesn’t matter that it is recess time, it doesn’t matter that you are in a dreary room… all that matters is that you are growing and learning.

18th May 2013 “He worked hard to make it easy”

David Davutovic reflects on the career of David Beckham, international soccer player. For all his endorsements and rock-star lifestyle, he practised those dangerous bending, dipping, arching free kicks for hours a day…”everytime I stepped on the pitch, I’ve given everything I have,” Beckham said. David Davutovic, Herald Sun p75

Link to Systems Thinking: Beckham had identified the processes he had to refine and made sure that these were were finely tuned, having taken on input from experts, other players and his own experiences. This was coupled with a passion for the game and a desire to be seen as a committed player. The outcome being very refined skills, many endorsements and awards, along with a very public lifestyle.

Link to Education: Learners have to be given the opportunity to practice to gain the skills they need.  It has to be OK to make mistakes so that learners can learn.


16th May 2013

“What is performance? Performance is your talent plus motivation.  That equals performance. It gets down to how high you are motivated and how much do you want to achieve your goal.  All I ever say to the players is this: do you have a real need to achieve your goals, and are you prepared to make the sacrifices to achieve those goals? What happens is you have to work really hard, and if you work hard enough then you should get the rewards.  If you are highly motivated, what does it make you do? It makes you concentrate.  What is concentration? Concentration is the complete application of mind and body to one particular endeavour, to the exclusion of everything else not relevant to it.  You know what that means? It means exactly this: what should I be doing now?  That’s what it means” Allan Jeans (extract from speech to Sacred Heart Mission football team Grand Final breakfast September 12, 2001 in “Tales from the Inner Sanctum”Reclink 2003)

Link to Education: Educators full attention has to be given over to ensuring students gain the entitlement of a quality education.  The child has to be at the heart of education and all decisions need to be based on whether this will improve student learning and experiences.  It isn’t enough for educators just to put in a performance, it has to be a “grand final” performance, full of motivation and passion. We only get one opportunity to get it right, and if we don’t that child does not get the education they are entitled to.

Link to Systems thinking: People are a key component of any system.  Clear and shared values, vision and mission are required to ensure the performance + motivation does occur.

12th May 2013 www.collingwoodfc.com.au

“Every game is a fork in the road, every contest is a fork in the road, every training session is a fork in the road. You can either choose to do it the right way or you buckle,”

“At the moment we are not making the right choices often enough, consistently enough across enough people”. (Nathan Buckley, coach of AFL team, Collingwood)

Link to Education: How do we support and facilitate so that our students choose the right fork in the road?  How do we, as educators, choose the correct fork in the road so that our students can discern and make appropriate choices?

Link to systems thinking: Ensuring inputs (research) is up-to-date and focuses on moving forward. Making sure students understand and have input into the learning system.  Processes, need to be co-constructed, documented, followed and reviewed to ensure “the right fork in the road” is chosen.


12th May 2013 (Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun): Jason Gillespie (past Australian cricket player) answers the question “What was it like coaching in the Zimbabwean wilderness?” Part of his story relates the fact that the club could not afford to put on lunch at a practice match, so his wife went and purchased bread and cordial so that they had something.

Link to education: There is a need for equity in our schools.  All school children deserve equal opportunities to learn.  As educators and citizens of a democratic and thriving society, it is our responsibility to see this happens

Link to systems thinking: The effective inter-relationships of system parts are crucial for the overall workings of the system.  The system for this club showed clearly that there was a weakness in both inputs and suppliers. The lack of finances for the basics would have a significant impact on the people of this system, both in effectiveness of their work and their output. The coaches wife was the champion for the cause, but this of course, was not a sustainable improvement.

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““Thinking Sport and Education””


  1. Quality Learning and Teaching » Blog Archive » Sacking the coach isn’t the answer!!!

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