Strategy and method, as important in education as they are in sport

February 21, 2018

Víctor Jordán - The Expert Corner - Johan Cruyff Institute

Making students an active part of learning, making the rules of the game available to them, and introducing technology that allows interaction and working in physical spaces that facilitate both elements are basic in modern and innovative education

Innovation in the classroom is a subject that goes in and out of fashion, systematically appearing in and disappearing from the educational debate. We do not believe that it is a debate unique to our time. Throughout history, questions about how we learn and what system or paradigm should be imposed, or if one method is more or less effective, have been recurrent among the educational community.

I myself have repeated like a mantra a Chinese proverb that says “what I heard I forgot, what I saw I understood and what I did I learned”, which we can find in different versions with a similar meaning, without forgetting more usual sayings today like ‘everyone has their own way of doing things’.

After many years in the educational world, my experience and observation has led me to divide educational centers and teachers of formal learning (regulated and scheduled courses) and informal learning (courses outside of the official educational system). It doesn’t matter if they have a style book or methodology for the student to learn if they lack one. Making a comparison with sport, and I allow myself to adopt the Cruyffian viewpoint, the division could be made between those who have a philosophy of play and those who do not, either because they are not aware of a need for one or because of their inability to apply one.

Strategy and method, as important in education as they are in sport - Johan Cruyff Institute

Within our philosophy of play at Johan Cruyff Institute, which is non-negotiable but always adaptable to teachers and students, I would like to highlight some key elements, present or future:

A firm commitment to “Active Learning”. According to Felder & Brent (2009), researchers at the University of North Carolina, everything related to class work that is not limited to students simply watching, listening and taking notes is considered to be active learning. Getting students to be active both individually and in a group before, during and after the end of the class, introducing technology that allows interaction, and working in physical spaces that facilitate both elements, are all crucial. It is a methodology that many teachers and centers have already tried and whose results are tangible (Freeman et al., 2014).

Strategy and method, as important in education as they are in sport - Johan Cruyff Institute

As critical elements for its implementation, I would like to point out three different aspects:

  • Strategy: the teacher needs to be clear that the focus must be on the students, who must have the rules of the game (what to do, when and how) at their disposal. The coach, or teacher, supervises and gives qualitative feedback. The content and resources can be taught through multiple supports and at different times. The essential thing is that learning is meaningful and as real as possible: case studies or simulations are very interesting, but do you imagine learning from a real company, with specific needs, that goes to the classroom not only to explain best (or worst) practices, but to propose challenges to improve some of the areas of the company?
  • Technology: it should facilitate learning (shared documentation, group communication, etc.) Obvious, isn’t it? I find it interesting to introduce games or competitions, and not because it’s a fad (I’m sure you know Socrative or Kahoot), and management.
  • Space: the classroom space and furniture must be able to be adapted to the needs of the moment. In 2010, the University of Minnesota inaugurated the Robert Bruininks Hall, an ideal space for the implementation of active learning. Harvard has the famous HILT Room. In Spain, there are also examples like Mondragón, Tecnocampus or ourselves.

In conclusion, and looking to the next season, you future students, or teachers, now have one more element to decide if you subscribe to any of the courses offered by the Johan Cruyff Institute. Are you ready to come into play?


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