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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The 3 A's of Education

I have been an elementary principal, HS principal, and now superintendent. At each initial faculty meeting I have made the statement: "I believe in the 3 A's (I never know how to type that if I leave out the apostrophe it just come out as As...) of education." Those 3 A's are academic, athletics, and the arts. From my perspective, if a school does not have all three areas included, then it is not complete or it is out of balance. I sometimes picture a triangle with academics on the top corner and the other two on the bottom. I believe that we must provide an area/program/activity where each student can succeed.

I must begin with academics. This is the reason we are in this profession, to teach the child. However, I like to say our job is to enhance the lives of the children we teach. Each state has standards/objectives that we all must teach. In Texas, it the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS). We are one of the few states that did not adopt the Common Core.I choose not to comment on that. As we all know there are so many components that make the whole child. As professional educators, it is our mission to teach all of those areas, from the mind, body, and emotions. I have found when we touch emotions, learning blossoms.

I love the arts. When my youngest daughter was in high school, she was required to take one credit of fine arts. She was having a hard time deciding what to take. However, we knew that the theater teacher was popular and did a good job of directing the One Act Play, and preparing her students for competition in speaking events. Long story short, she earned her degree in theater and minored in communications. She now teaches speech and debate. One thing that I noticed was that these kids that were in theater and speaking events practiced as much, researched their roles or topics for hours, worked as hard as athletes did in their sports. They learned the value of  hard work, sacrifice, setting goals, and preparation. I can say this about band and choir as well. Research also backs up the fact that the arts contributes to the success of the student academically. Students that participate in the music arts had better abstract conceptual thinking, stronger motor development, coordination, creativity, and verbal abilities.

For those that know me, athletics was and still is a big part of my life. I was fortunate enough to play at the highest level. Sometimes I think back at those days and say "Wow, I really did that!" I think one thing that tends to separate athletics from the rest is responding to adversity at the time it happens. Tom Landry once stated, "Fotball doesn't develop character; it only reveals it." It is through adversity that character comes out. So many other activities allow one to reflect, correct, and move on when adversity takes place. You do this in athletics too, but during contests, players must do this "on the fly." I think that athletics tends to develop leadership and discipline, as well.

As I stated above, we should strive to teach the whole child. To accomplish that, we should provide a program for each student to "have a niche." I want to have a school full of students that "allows the school to pass through the student, not merely students who pass through the school."