Wake-Up Call

June 20, 2013

Ken Robinson, the author of Finding Your Element, is quoted in the June 10 issue of TIME saying: “I can’t imagine there’s a student in America who gets up in the morning hoping he can improve the state’s test scores.”

Dr. Robinson – aka Sir Kenneth Robinson – whose TED talk has been watched 17 million times, laments that education is being driven more and more by standardized testing, but less and less by the kind of individualized education that ignites learning. That disturbs me too.

Dropouts, delinquency and discipline problems in our schools are not addressed at all by standardized tests. In fact, the focus on such testing probably adds to each problem.

The job of teachers should not be to teach to the test, but to locate and ignite the different hot buttons of students. That’s a lot tougher, and it’s infinitely better for students, schools and society.

Dynamic classroom teachers matter. And so do those who work after hours with students in music, fine arts and athletics. Nothing matters more in bringing students to schools each morning with a sense that they’re much more than a statistic for bureaucratic measurement and political posturing.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.