Many of those who defend today's "student-centered" education methodology like to claim that "research" proves that students learn best when they're allowed to "explore learning" on their own. We could point out that much of that "research" is done by the very people responsible for changing the methodology of public education from a traditional knowledge-based system to one based on values and feelings -- in other words, they're creating research to support the sale of their "new" educational materials -- but what has always struck me as odd is how the touchy-feely teacher-as-facilitator approach never made it into certain areas of education.

Like athletics.

I wonder why?

Imagine you're the coach of the local high-school football team. It's Friday night and you're getting ready to send the troops out onto the field.

"Danny, I know you've never kicked off before; even though Jake was an All-State kicker last year and you haven't been at a single practice this fall, I think it's important that you get the chance to experience kicking off. Let's go get 'em, Fawns!"

Danny's kickoff is returned for a touchdown. You send Chuckie out to field the other team's kickoff, and he fumbles it, but your team miraculously recovers. You gather the offense on the sideline.

"Okay, I know that Blake is the quarterback, but Poindexter is a member of an oppressed minority, and he deserves the same chance as Blake. Go get 'em!"

"But coach, what play should we run?"

"Don't worry, something will come to you."

The offense takes the field and Poindexter, who's never taken a snap in his life because he's a 5-foot-3, 280-pound guard, gets sacked for a 15-yard loss. You call time out and huddle your offense.

"Okay guys, I know we have some ground to make up. Let me ask you, how do you feel about losing 15 yards on the first play in front of everyone in town? Do I need to contact the school district lawyer to seek compensatory yardage?"

"Coach, we suck."

"That's not a proper attitude, Jerry -- unless of course that is your preference, in which case you should feel good about sucking. Okay, this time we're going to run a pass play!"

"Which play, coach?"

"You'll figure it out, trust your feelings."

The likelihood of such a coach retaining his job through the first quarter -- especially in Texas -- is pretty slim. He's facilitating, not teaching. Those kids aren't learning to play football.

How do you teach football? You design plays. You show those designs to your position coaches, and all of you get on the same page about what the play is designed to do. You then put that play into a playbook and give it to the players. The players study the playbook until they have memorized it.

Then you put them on the practice field by position and, from quarterback to end to guard to running back, teach each player his role in the play. You eventually bring all the positions together to run the play in practice -- and you run it, over and over, until the players do it right.

Coaching football is traditional Type I educational methodology: memorization of facts, skills and drills, repetition until players KNOW what they're supposed to do and can do it unconsciously.

The same principles are used in Saxon Math and any other number of other programs which have arisen over the years in challenge to the education establishment's focus on affective methodology.

Before the public education system in the United States began implementing affective Type II methodology in the late 1960s, America's public education system led the world. With outcomes-based education in place, we're now in the 30s.


Maybe it's time to study a new playbook.