Open Education Ticket to Future French Opens

31 05 2010

It’s the French Open as well as Memorial Day, and I’m a tennis fan, former local league player until my knee blew out. So I’ve connected tennis and other sports before, to “school” and unschooling.
For example:

” . . .did you know tennis used to be played by monks using human flesh as their rackets??

Google racket history and you’ll see. . . tennis power of story and how
tennis and school/church treat individuals as interchangeable parts, to
ill effect
. . .

Versatility isn’t a talent, but a desire to extend ability.

Where did Nadal find this spirit of court innovation?
Not at an American academy. Nadal’s parents resisted that siren’s song. He stayed close to home… far from the Nick Bollettieri-style compounds in Florida.

Instead, Nadal grew up with dimension, was raised a chameleon… Nadal applied his eagerness to learn and adjust as he decoded the subtleties of grass during Wimbledon.

Such court awareness isn’t a virtue of American tennis academies. And the forehand factories are not the answer to the country’s talent deficit. . . The numbing baseline games, the one-dimensional plans, the mechanical style, these characteristics will only send Americans down the rankings. Nuance has to be a part of the U.S.T.A. program at the Evert Academy if it is to succeed at producing players as resourceful as they are robotic. . .

Intelligence isn’t manufactured, but nurtured. . .
Welcome to the Federer Era, in which there is little room for shallow, superficial tennis. ”

School is to sports . . . shallow, superficial and inadequate to the challenges ahead. And Big Corporations are in charge of it all, on or off the courts, in or out of school:

Why on earth would the corporate sponsor know more than the WTA CEO about tennis? Say, who’s running the women’s tennis tour anyway? I have to admit that I’m still confused. Why is this plot so hard to follow?

Fast forward a few years and we’re back to that future.

Approaching extinction of U.S. tennis
*By Roy S. Johnson
Special to
Updated: May 28, 2010, 5:29 PM ET

. . . Let’s face it, we stink at tennis. Really stink. Despite the
USTA’s best efforts (or worst, depending upon whom you’re talking to) to discover and nurture the next generation of tennis stars, officials
simply cannot manufacture greatness. . .

Just recently, tennis icon John McEnroe announced he was opening an
academy in New York. He shuns the “total immersion” model used by most of the more noted academies and is modeling his program after the one in Port Washington, N.Y., that helped build his game. Gifted players play regularly, but attend school independently from the academy.

In other words, they have a life. He also hopes to draw kids from areas of the city, such as Harlem and Brooklyn, that have not traditionally been sown for tennis stars.

“People feel, put the kids in the middle of nowhere, isolate them, so
all they can do is live and breathe tennis,” McEnroe told The New York

“Me, I went to Florida with Harry Hopman, at 15 or 16, for one
day and said, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’ Never would I have made it
if I had to do that. It would have been a form of torture.”

See also Colleges hot to attract winter wunderkind because tennis as Florida teaches it is there too, for the Midas Touch alchemy of turning love to gold. Going, going — gone.



3 responses

31 05 2010

Replaying a JJ comment from another discussion:
. . .And then I remember there are three different definitions even of the so-casually invoked concept of “average” — mean, median and mode — and that it’s perfectly possible to have a group average (mean) that no single person within that group actually fits, although we’ll still use that average to legislate for all, and I wonder whether even we college whiz kids with doctorates in this stuff, have mastered as much real knowledge about our own education, much less everybody else’s, as we think. 🙂

31 05 2010

Unschooling writer Pat Farenga says in Transforming Mush, that our own ideas and definitions set up the failure of universal college education:

[A] study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, reported by Lois Romano of The Washington Post notes:

“…The reading proficiency of college graduates has declined in the past decade… While more Americans are graduating from college, and more than ever are applying for admission, far fewer are leaving higher education with the skills needed to comprehend routine data…”

. . .After years of standardizing education in the name of high expectations, making college the ultimate goal for children, and viewing our children as resources to be developed for our economy, like oil and gold, we are still left with the fact that most children and teenagers do not respond well to this treatment.

Test scores have risen, diplomas are granted, more people than ever are applying for college admission, yet the evidence is still there: We aren’t much smarter for all these expensive efforts.

Why do we blame ourselves instead of our ideas about schooling for these failures?

31 05 2010

Peter Gray’s Psychology Today blog:

In nonhuman animals, play and contests are sharply distinguished. Play is cooperative and egalitarian, and contests are antagonisitic and aimed at establishing dominance. Hunter-gatherer humans accentuated play and avoided contests in order to maintain the high degree of cooperation and sharing that was essential to their way of life.

In our society, with our competitive games, we often confound play and contest. What might be the consequences of this for children’s development?

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