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"Greatness is not something that can be taught. It's something that comes from within." - Wayne Gretzky
"In Search of Greatness" (*ad) is a documentary that explores the qualities that make iconic athletes great. It features interviews with sports legends such as Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, and Pelé, as well as other influential figures like Tom Brady and Muhammad Ali. The film highlights the importance of creativity, unstructured environments, and a willingness to challenge traditional techniques to achieve greatness. It suggests that today's structured approach to youth sports may hinder the development of talent. The documentary also highlights innovators in sports, individuals who revolutionized their respective fields by challenging the status quo. Above all else, self-belief is a prerequisite for greatness.
I watched this documentary while spinning on my bike above the garage, and even though this film is primarily about sports, it can also cross over into the realms of parenting, teaching, and education. Here are some ways the ideas presented in the documentary can be used to unleash "greatness" in education and inspire students to reach their full potential.
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The Importance of Creativity in Education:
"The greatest athletes are the ones who can adapt and evolve with the game." - Michael Jordan
Creativity is a powerful force that sparks innovation and enables individuals to uncover their unique talents and abilities. According to the Edutopia article "4 Ways to Develop Creativity in Students," creativity can be nurtured by initially teaching students the necessary skills and providing them with a framework. By promoting creativity in education, an environment is created where students are motivated to think unconventionally, express their ideas, and explore novel problem-solving approaches.
Balancing Structure and Unstructured Learning:
"It's not about being the best, it's about being the best version of yourself." - Abby Wambach
While structure and curriculum are essential components of education, it is equally important to provide students with opportunities for unstructured learning. Unstructured learning experiences, such as free exploration and open-ended projects, encourage curiosity, independence, and critical thinking. I think many teachers, including myself, are hesitant to schedule this unstructured time because we are afraid of what others may think or that students won't learn everything they are supposed to by the end of the school year. But by striking a balance between structured and unstructured learning, we can cultivate an environment that fosters innovation and prepares students to adapt to an ever-changing world.
Encouraging Independent Thinking:
"Success is not just about winning, but also about the journey and the lessons learned along the way." - Lionel Messi
To nurture greatness, we must instill in students the ability to question conventional wisdom and challenge the status quo. By encouraging independent thinking, we empower students to develop their unique perspectives, question assumptions, and seek innovative solutions. By embracing diverse viewpoints and encouraging intellectual curiosity, we can create a culture of exploration and intellectual growth. This approach not only prepares students for success in the classroom but also equips them with the skills they need to navigate life outside of the classroom.
Cultivating Self-Belief in Students:
"The great ones have an unwavering belief in themselves and their abilities." - Usain Bolt
Self-belief is a fundamental aspect of achieving greatness. By instilling confidence in students and providing them with the tools to navigate challenges and setbacks, we empower them to persevere and reach their goals. By nurturing a growth mindset and celebrating individual progress, we can foster a culture of resilience and self-belief that moves students in the direction of their greatness. "Every student deserves the chance and has the right to explore their glorious potential. Helping our students to believe in themselves when perhaps no one else does and working with them to cultivate hope where seemingly there is none are two of the greatest gifts educators can offer to our youth." (How to Help Students Believe in Themselves)
The Grand Finale
"In Search of Greatness" reminds us that greatness is not limited to sports; it extends to all aspects of life, including education. By embracing creativity, balancing structure and unstructured learning, encouraging independent thinking, learning from paradigm shifters, and cultivating self-belief, we can unleash the greatness within every student. As teachers, we can create an educational pathway that empowers students to think boldly, dream big, and make a positive impact on the world. One of the joys of teaching is watching your students begin to travel their own trajectories and take steps to become the best version of themselves.
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