#coachlearninginsport: hooking … and triggering


I use #coachlearninginsport to pull together my thoughts about coaches’ learning journeys.
This post started with a prompt in a post written by Bryce Tully. Bryce proposes that “the current trend within high performance sport is to place disproportional weight on the collection of scientific data, while the organizational and psychological factors essential to its success are largely ignored”.
A second prompt came from a Nathan Kinch discussion about design processes that hook attention.
Both these prompts (which speak to my interest in educational technology and learning experience design) coalesced around  a short talk I am giving this evening at a meeting of the Braidwood Regional Arts Group.
In the talk (called Parallel Tracks), I hope to look briefly at the impact of the arts on my approach to the observation, recording and analysis of performance in sport. I am going to ask the audience about their memories of the impact of a work of art on them ( and connect this with a sport experience).

Parallel Tracks

As I was thinking about how to phrase this question, I thought back to my exposure to Turner’s picture of a railway engine, Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway 1844.
I saw it on a visit to the National Gallery in 1980. My response then was that I did not see the point of the picture. I was expecting a representational picture of an engine crossing a bridge.
However, it was an unforgettable image for me. My attention had been hooked. I have only made sense of the picture years later. It has grown on me. When it appeared in the film Mr. Turner, it seemed like an old friend.
The image had subliminally triggered my learning about sharing the essence of something.
… which leads me to Marcel Proust and the triggers for memories.

In his In Search of Lost Time, Marcel tastes a piece of a ‘petite madeleine‘ cake steeped in lime-blossom tea, then:

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shiver ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. … this new sensation having the effect, which love has, of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was me.

As he reflects on this experience, Marcel notes “I can hear the echo of great spaces traversed” that ultimately leads to recapturing memories of his childhood.

Heads Up

This merging of ideas set me of thinking about how coaches trigger their own and others’ learning opportunities. I wondered if ‘hook’ might have a non-pejorative meaning in this context. I wondered too how we might mobilise memories to trigger engagement and learning.
I found myself rereading Bruce Hood, Douglas Willen and Jon Driver’s (1998) to think about gaze and the importance of eye direction detection. They note:

infants as young as 3 months of age can detect the direction of gaze as indicated by the eyes alone, and that this detection influences their own direction of attention reliably, as revealed by latency and error data from their subsequent orienting to peripheral probes. (1998:132)

They suggest that research should explore “the perceptual basis of the mechanism that triggers attention shifts that follow perceived gaze”.
More recently, Saara Khalid, Jason Deska and Kurt Hugenberg (2016) have discussed how when others make eye contact with us, we are encouraged “to impute minds into others”. They conclude:

ascriptions of sophisticated humanlike minds to others are modulated by targets eye gaze –targets with direct eye gaze are ascribed more sophisticated minds than their averted gaze counterparts – and this differential ascription of mind is related to expectations of social interaction. (2016:27)
Ironically, I have discussed my own learning with my gaze at a picture and a fragment of text. In my case, I have tried to imagine the minds of Joseph Mallord William Turner and Marcel Proust.
I do hope my talk does hook attention and trigger conversation. I hope too this post contributes to the discussion of coaches’ continuing learning journeys as they (we) find ways to engage athletes as learners. I am hopeful that this might mean we have a heads up pedagogy.

Photo Credit

Rain, Steam and Speed (National Gallery, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) (Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775 – 1851. Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway 1844. Oil on canvas, 91 x 121.8 cm. Turner Bequest, 1856. NG538)
Smell and Memory (Deb’s World blog post 2013)
Aap-Noot-Mies/ Primer in the classroom (Nationaal Archief, no known copyright restrictions)


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