Monday, October 14, 2013

Phil Jackson the Teacher

I try to read a lot. I read everything. I try to mix up education, non-fiction, young adult, classics, and spirituality texts. I love books because they force me to think deeply about questions, situations, and subjects. This is often a challenge because so much information is truncated. Blogs, Twitter, and other 21st century information exchanges often focus on quantity, rather than quality. I love me some Twitter and blogs, but I also need to read qualitative arguments and well drawn out thoughts. 

I recently finished a book written by Phil Jackson. What is so fascinating about Phil is the way he leads and constructs the team. In an era of big egos and authoritative figure heads, he has a totally different approach. This approach wields unbelievable success. 

I need to write more about the learning and inspiration I draw from books. With that in mind, I share my favorite quotes from Sacred Hoops. It is amazing how analogous some of the thoughts are to education.  




"In basketball -- as in life -- true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way."

"Winning is important to me, but what brings me real joy is an experience of being fully in whatever I'm doing"

This reminds me of the concept of 'Flow' by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This idea of complete, absolute engagement in a task is very important to teachers.

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

Speaking of the triangle offense

"what they liked about the system most was that it was democratic: it created shots for everyone, not just the superstars. 

Phil believes it is imperative to make every member feel important and worthwhile. Only when each member feels their contribution valuable, will the whole team shine. This is a powerful concept. We are only as strong as our weakest link. What does that mean to you?


"We try to create a supportive environment, that structures the way they relate to each other and gives them freedom to realize their potential"

See Daniel Pink. Humans crave autonomy! So do our kids.

Speaking of the book Leading Change by James O'Toole
"Value-Based Leaders, O'Toole says, enlist the hearts and minds of their followers through inclusion and participation. They listen to their followers out of a deep respect for them as individuals"

"Some coaches try to force players to bond with each other by putting them through hellish Marine Corps-style training. That's a short-term solution, at best. I've found that the connection will be deeper and last longer if it's built on a foundation of true exchange."

"What I've learned as a coach, and a parent, is that when people are not awed and overwhelmed by authority, true authority is attained"

See Alfie Kohn's work on reward and punishments.

"Skillful means is used to describe an approach to making decision and dealing with problems that is appropriate to the situation and causes no harm....a parent who packs a kid off to bed for spilling milk instead of handling the child a sponge is not practicing skillful means"

How do you approach "classroom management"? This seems very humane and works for long term change.

"Eventually, everybody loses, ages, changes. And small triumphs- a great play, a moment of true sportsmanship count even though you may not win the game"

Such a valuable learning and life lesson.


"Make your work play and play work"

"My primary goal during practice is to get players to reconnect with the intrinsic love of the game"

This is my mission as a teacher, pure and simple. We all love learning, we just don't like doing it at school.





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