Monday, October 20, 2014

Simon says: Long Term Sub Part II

 I have read studies where teachers have commented about children’s lack of hand strength. We would incorporate the physical and the mental for the balance needed to learn and grow long term.
I wanted to teach them balance and the importance of the journey. The kids loved the change, and embraced the new learning technique. It was a fun thing to do. They were engaged. We had a base for growth. Let’s play.
When I was doing just a day long sub I used to tell the kids:  "Give me 35 minutes of work and I will reward you with 5 minutes of free time at the end of class."  This paradigm served me well, but as always, there are some things that just do not go as planned and you have to adjust on the fly. But as their trust in my ways grew, more and more kids wanted to embrace this paradigm. Some even commenting, “Mr. Stanley we want to learn.” "Mr. Stanley, we believe you.” “Mr. Stanley, this is good.”
 There was a saying I thought up for the kids and related it to the children at the beginning of my first class. After a while kids requested it from me at the beginning of class. Children have an innate desire to learn and grow. I just add the fuel. Here is the saying.
“I’m a huge believer in choice. I can’t force you to study nor do I want to. But I can and will create an atmosphere in this classroom for those children who want to study and learn, can do so in peace and quiet. The deck is stacked, the game is rigged. I’m going to win. I’ve seen me do it. It’s not my job to decide when, how, or even if the educational light goes on for you, my goal is to just keep flipping the switch.”

I also taught them a handshake. It is the same handshake I taught my players and other students. It’s called “The peace of mind is victory” handshake. You take the first two fingers in your right hand and make the “V” for victory sign palm up. The other person does the same thing palm down. You then slide your fingers over their fingers in a quick snap motion. Kids like it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Simon Says Long term Sub Part I

Simon Says: Long Term Sub
Last spring a very good friend of mine had to go into the hospital for surgery. She was going to be out for six weeks. She is a fantastic seventh grade Biology teacher. I was very pleased when she asked me to teach her class while she was away.
  When both the teacher and the student learn at the same time, that is when true creative education happens, and I knew this would be the case in this classroom with these students.
 My major degree is in History, with minor degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, as well as a Masters in Education. I have always believed that if you can teach, you can teach basic fundamentals, and the joy of learning. When that environment exists, you can teach just about anything.
 (The same holds true for coaching.) Nurturing this desire to learn in children is an art. Or as my late great father used to say:  "teach them the yearn to learn."
I wanted to engage them in the process, and test their ability and desire to improve, without them knowing it. How could I get them to enjoy thinking and learning without knowing that was what I was going to teach them?
So, I devised a plan.
The first thing I wrote on the board was: “It’s all about the journey.” I left that up on the board the whole six weeks and we ALL referred to it often. Underneath it I wrote “Trust.” I wanted to earn their trust. Trust is reciprocal. Respect might come, but trust is essential for growth, community, and compassion. Underneath that:  "Be positive." It’s easy to go negative.

Cursive writing is not a big thing with children these days so I thought I would have them each sign their study “packets” with their opposite writing hand. They added one letter each time they were in my class to the first letter of their name. It showed them their progression each time they added a letter, and then finally when they wrote their whole name.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

An open letter to the youth and high school sports world Part II

But we are not here to copy, imitate, or even try to better what has already been done. I doubt I would have come up with this paradigm and put it into practice coaching over the last 30 years in the youth, high school, and college level if I had accepted the status quo from the beginning.
 I can certainly see where people have their doubts about us, and our programs. They just don’t see what we are doing clearly, because it has always been done this way for them, to them, and with them, over the last 30 years. In reality this time in their exposure to youth and high school sports is only a micro second or a nano second in the history of the world.
 People seem to be having more doubts about their own journey and goals while participating in youth and high school sports than they used to. That is why they have so much angst and resist change all at the same time.
 But there is a growing undercurrent and sentiment amongst players, coaches, parents, and organizations, that this paradigm is flawed and there has to be a better way. We have a different model and I have been successful with it in business, with my family, my personal life, teaching in the classroom, and with coaching. Let me be clear here, I have made a tremendous amount of mistakes along the way. I drank lots of “Kool-aid.” What I have learned, I try and share. It’s about the journey and balanced excellence, not immediacy and specialization. Show the kids how much fun an activity can be and they will beat a path to your door.
Whether it be the guy sitting on his front porch inventing the blues, the Cotton Gin, Herb Brooks putting a team together different than has been done before, or Bill Gates going into a garage with an idea, snowboarding, the internet, Columbus sailing to a new world, true societal change has come through visionaries willing to accept the risks involved with going against accepted principles, because it was clear to them time had come for a change. Someone next to them, above them, or beside them who just happened to come along at just the right time and said, we believe, we have faith in you and trust that this is the new way. They had faith. Their approach and ours too embraces risk, freedom, and reward.
 Now I am not saying I am like them, they are legendary. But there is a parallel. There is a familiar concept we share. This way is not working. Let’s look at an entirely different way to do things.
Our paradigm can be summed up with this example. No one knows how to win a game in sports and we can prove it. Yet, we as society anoint winners and therefore losers all the time while not knowing how to win, how to teach it, and what winning really means to those who watch, coach and play sports. That is a recipe for an emotional firecracker. That is why we believe in staying in the moment, being a great teammate, equal play for children under 12,play by performance for the older kids,  sportsmanship, and life skills, balanced with multiple activities and academics,
The fee I charge doesn’t cover the cost of what I do, but it’s not why I do it. It’s the next door it opens, the next idea it puts in my brain, the next person I see get it. Real payment comes in the joy on the children’s faces when they are given the freedom to fail and succeed in a safe positive environment. That’s what drives me.
 Children learn from internal realization not external force.  My mentor has said it’s going to take five years for our paradigm to be an overnight success. We will see. People, who have doubted our program he says, will jump on the bandwagon when it starts to roll. I certainly hope so.
Our mission is based on a holistic organic approach to children’s long term physical and mental well being. Short term always has a cost. I am continually asking people who resist our paradigm, “What is it you are defending?” If you are so unhappy with this journey why not try something different? It’s not our goal to decide when, how, or even if the light goes on. Our job is to just keep flipping the switch.
You see, I am just the messenger the truth was already there.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An open letter to the youth and high school sports world, Part 1

An open letter to the youth and high school sports world,
 Our company is named Frozen Shorts, for all the kids who sit on the bench needlessly, appreciates the opportunity to speak with you about our program and paradigm. (F.S.L.M.) Our services include seminars, workshops, in season mentoring services for coaches, and one on one family and player consulting. We have been asked about putting a certification program together, and we are always open to looking at new ways to do things.
Certification has been happening for a while now. Whether it is a national program, the NYS initiative, or the one this guy is thinking of forming in Los Angeles, they all bring needed information to the process. Keep sprinkling the ground with seeds, keep educating. I’m all for it. But the problem still grows. I am not completely sold on certification. I have been to numerous certification programs and have learned a lot. I still think the classroom is a good start.
 But what we do, by actually going out on the field, court, or rink, and working one on one with these coaches, after our orientation program, or our family and individual player consulting services, seems to be having the most impact. We do workshops, presentations to churches, Pediatricians, Hospitals, Rotarians; youth sports groups, churches, elementary schools, Middle schools, high schools, colleges, and national organizations of surgeons, and USA Hockey. I really enjoy seeing the results, and the “light” goes on when we mentor a coach or program.  Watching that individual take what they have learned and teach and or model it to others and see it continuing to grow is truly rewarding.
We are trying to change a culture. People believe in the win now, play one sport year round at the elite level model, and all its imagery and status. The chase for the extremely elusive almighty athletic scholarship powers this justification and entitlement to behave and train in a certain myopic way. But it truly is a race that doesn’t exist when you have all the facts.
 We feel we have a deep understanding of the problem, the ability and desire to learn more, and the time it will take to accomplish our goals, along with many others to change this culture.
 There is a mental and physical epidemic inherent in this culture that has been cultivated and nourished by television, organizations, mega contracts and people profiting from its existence and enhancement. The culture can and is being measured, analyzed, debated, and changed even as the problem grows.

Type II diabetes is on the rise and obesity has quadrupled over the last twenty years. More kids are playing video games than youth sports, and they are not just gamers. Even the kids playing sports are getting hurt in epic proportions. $2.5 billion was spent last year on youth and high school sports injuries and $1.25 billion was spent on overuse injuries. 40% of that money was spent on kids under the age of 14.  Of those kids who play, 70% are quitting by the age of 13.So I ask parents, coaches, athletes, and organizations all the time,” how is your way working for you?”

Sunday, September 21, 2014

F.S.L.M. part II Rental cars

Watching these kids burn out, get injured, or just quit over the past 20 years has allowed the accumulation of data that supports letting kids be kids. It’s been this way for centuries! (And it worked!)
It’s like loading up a new rental  car for a trip, adding a trailer, and six people to go on a trip. Sure , you are going to get there most of the time, but the engine has been maxed out and worn, The transmission, shocks, struts, tires, will all be worn. It’s the reason people are hesitant to buy rental cars. The thinking is they were driven hard and fast at an early age and are going to breakdown or need a lot of maintenance soon.
We believe in ramping up the completion aspect by using the play by performance model when the kids are 15 and 16 years old. At this time, their bodies and minds have developed to the point where their creativity, learned from an early age where mistakes were not confused with failure, and playing time was distributed equally so that the skill level of ALL was improved and therefore the end result was a larger group of better athletes.
THEN, and only them should they pick one sport and specialize. The completion will be better and more advanced as skill and coping have been taught through repetition, trial and error. These children will be able to compete at a higher level, because their foundation has been set with a program that allows them to be children first and foremost.

Now you have my attention for real truly high level competition, not entitlement.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

F.S.L.M. Competitive Paradigm Part I

 F.S.L.M. Competitive Paradigm
I was speaking with a person in youth sports, and it doesn’t matter what sport it is, about our paradigm. He was saying that it seemed like we were not encouraging competition at the higher levels.
Let me state for the record: The Frozen Shorts Learning Method (F.S.L.M.) is a very competitive model for children’s long term athletic and cognitive development. I have used this method for all age groups and travel programs for over 30 years with great success. There is a process that should be followed to get to a high level of competition based on Science, Psychology, and data, not “tradition,” theory, and hunches.
(This current tradition is only about 40 years old)
We disagree with the current model on many levels. With obesity on the rise, Type II diabetes becoming more prevalent in our children, and kids quitting youth sports at an alarming rate, I am bemused by the forces defending the current paradigm model. The solution is simple, it is just not easy. It is a holistic and organic approach to childhood development.
The more fun you have, the more you will want to do that event. The more relaxed you are, the better you will be able to perform. The better you perform, the better the ensuing competition. This takes time, lots of time.
We want competition. We think completion is a good thing. True inclusive competition at the highest levels will only become a reality when a significant fundamental base is established that embraces the fact that they are children, and not mini adults, and not micro professional athletes. Children are not remote controlled objects attached to adult’s personal joy sticks and status mechanisms.
My son as a Kindergartner was not half a 6th grader, and when he was in 6th grade he was not half a senior in high school or a 12th grader. There was a process that that whole time continuum was sometimes he progressed quickly and sometimes he did not.
What we don’t want is winning and losing getting in the way of a Childs learning and growth curve, and that is what is happening on many fronts. Winning and losing are being used as an excuse for entitlement. Coaches are going to play the “best” so we can win today. We want the pool of talent to be bigger, longer, that ensures real competition when it matters.
Over the last 3 decades that I have been involved in youth, high school, and college sports, I have seen a remarkable transformation in the athletic model at all levels. Let me explain.
At the youngest level, and I am talking about 6, 7, and 8 year olds, I am seeing All Star travel teams. There is no medical data that supports this as a healthy program for six, seven, and eight year olds. On the other hand, there is plenty of Psychologists, teachers, and Doctors who state that the cognitive ability of these children to understand what they are being told to do on an athletic field, rink, or court is not up to the level they are being pushed to execute. We say, let them have fun. The more fun they have the better they will play.
Their self worth is being tied to an extrinsic force based on small myopic sample of their athletic ability instead of an internal realization of life lessons. This culture is ripe for stress and angst.
 Ever seen an older sibling take a ball away from a younger sibling? Watch the process that goes on. Now watch what happens when you step in and explain to both kids how playing together will help them both. See the interaction between them. Changes as your guidance gives them the necessary tools to cope and learn.
Yes, sometimes it does not go well and the older child just bullies his or her way. But that is where the parenting or coaching guidance comes in. Convincing them both to help each other, initiates a process more conducive to mutual growth, and growth is what leads to excellence. We believe in the power of inclusion, not the specialization of exclusion.
Take the example of an 8 year old soccer player. He or she is way ahead of the other kids. He or she can do things with the ball that the others can’t. People see this and start to anoint him or her as the next star. But what isn’t seen or talked about is the 8 year olds cognitive ability to handle this needless outside pressure. They are encouraged by extra playing time or status to believe they are better than the other kids. When, actually, they just have a head start in a race that doesn’t exist.
Only about 10% of all the kids that are considered the best at that age are still the best at 18. In many cases the natural progression of a child’s development is fast forwarded and causes long term physical and mental harm to the child because they are doing too much too soon.

 Sometimes, they are just closest to the cutoff date for their age group and have a 10 month age differential fueling that difference or advantage. Sometimes they have a little more advanced eye hand coordination at an early age from a genetic gift. BUT they are still just kids.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Today's thoughts Fun, Fat and Stress

In our book Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports we try and explain why Kids are quitting youth sports and the correalation to obesity and Type II diabetes.FUN, it is essential for kids to be creative and play. When that is taken away by adults you have a whole new generation that can equate activity and play with stress. thats why they walk away, and most never run back.
Play for fun with balanced excellence.Its so much easier to be active with someone than by yourself. Free play in parks with friends, pick up games with friends, and made up games with friends of ALL levels of talent and ability welcome are great. BUt an underlying problem is that we are bombarded with winning and being the best as an individual. It tears apart our sense of community which could be an essential part of a healthy life style. I dont want to be yelled at.If we are having fun together, we willl all feel good together, and for each other, in a positive way.We are having fun without stress.