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Learning About Learning from Teaching Golf

As I mentioned in this post, I'm helped out my gentleman friend with his golf camp this week.  Yes, that really says golf camp, but don't faint, I  didn't actually teaching golf.  I know better than that!  
I really don't know anything about golf.  I've always been terrible at sports, and really don't have any desire to go there.  But I enjoyed watching my guy in action, and it got me thinking about teaching and learning.  

In a way, I'm envious.  What he teaches is far less complicated than what I teach.  He has far less students, and only has to teach a few different skills, that just keep getting practiced for the rest of the week.  I'm also a bit envious because the kids that are learning golf have far greater attention spans than the kids I work with!  These kids are ages 9 - 16.  My second graders are 7.

I found myself comparing my job to his job.  I guess teachers always make those connections, it's who we are!

These are some things I noticed happening at golf camp, that also happen in the classroom:
  1. Feedback is essential.  In golf, the ball gives the feedback.  If it goes where you wanted it to, you're doing it right.  If it doesn't go where you want it, you need to adjust.
  2. There is a lot of repetition on important points.  These guys worked all week on the basic strokes, and they often were quizzed... "How is chipping different from pitching?"
  3. The vocabulary is used over and over until it flows naturally.  Yes, I really do know what chipping and pitching are!
  4. Even golfers need a break to let their learning settle before they hear something new.  
  5. It's important to practice correctly.  Practicing incorrectly could create a bad habit.  Those bad habits are harder to correct than learning to do it right to begin with!  (Accuracy trumps speed in reading!)
  6. Talking about it helps!  Those conversations about what you're learning helps you understand what you're learning.
  7. Movement helps the learning. In golf, that's easy!  Once they get the feel for each stroke, they can focus on the details, it's all about moving.  It's not so easy to include movement in the teaching of reading, but it helps!
  8. Making connections helps the brain remember information.  When the golfers were taught each stroke, they heard connections to other sports and other movements, particularly when it came to the "follow through" of each stroke.  Readers make connections to the books they read.  The brain needs these connections!
  9. The use of humor is necessary and appreciated.  Brain research tells us that emotions help the learning stick.  My guy tends to slip jokes into his demonstrations, even though a few of them were over the heads of the kids.  I admit, I tend to do that too.  If they kids aren't entertained, at least I am! 
  10. Even golfers have assessments!  On the last day, the boys were asked to "teach" something they had learned to the others.  It was very impressive!  They were a little quiet about it, but they used the right vocabulary, and described the details of the different strokes!  My gentleman friend got the feedback he needed on his teaching skills.

Interestingly enough, most of the above items go right along with what brain research has taught us about how the brain learns!  Isn't it amazing how much teaching golf has to do with teaching reading?  or math?  or social studies?  or science?

The other day I was inspired to make this "Par 3" math game.

It was so well received, that I was inspired to make another golf themed game!  I made this phonics game.  It also works like a Bingo game, and works with dice.  There are enough game boards so it can be played with a whole reading group.   

1 comment:

  1. It's so true. Learning is learning is learning. Great connections between golf and the classroom. :)

    The Teaching Thief


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