Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What RA Dickey and the knuckleball can teach me

RA Dickey is a pitcher for the New York Mets. He is having a wonderful year. He arguably has been the best pitcher in the National League during the first half of the 2012 season.

His effort was not rewarded with a traditional honor - being named the starting pitcher in the All-Staff Game.


Here is one explanation from Tony Manfred.

The baseball world sees Dickey and his knuckleball as a gimmick, an odd and fleeting path to effectiveness that automatically disqualifies him from the realm of great pitchers and places him his own separate and inferior category … The basic lesson is this: Greatness in sports is not about objective superiority, it’s about satisfying popular assumptions about what greatness ought to look like.

There’s an inherent bias against players who succeed differently.
This started me thinking about schools, teaching. learning, and our success. 

Do we have preconceived notions of what greatness ought to look like and does that interfere with how we teach and how students learn?

In particular, this suggestion that RA Dickey is seen as inferior because he uses a knuckleball started me thinking about some of our obsessions in schools.


Cursive writing.

Memorizing facts.

Working independently.

Good students, it is suggested, can do these things. Are these just traditional assumptions?

We now have spell check and word processing and Google. Students can access experts on their cell phone or tablet computer. No longer is the teacher the only source of knowledge in a classroom. Some of our traditional and popular assumptions need to be thrown out.

Maybe learning in the 21st century is more about learning to throw a knuckleball and less about fitting into preconceived, and often less effective, assumptions.

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