Understanding

Mark Upton wrote a post this week titled KPIs, Comparative Coaching & Classrooms.

In September, Mark and Ric Shuttleworth will begin facilitating conversations about ‘relearn Team Sports’.

I think their six-month journeys with coaches will be fascinating.

In his post, Mark wrote:

My own experiences and observations suggest there can be a disproportionate amount of time analysing, editing and preparing video clips for the “classroom”, in comparison to the time spent thinking about and designing purposeful (perhaps even creative!) on-field activities and sessions.

In October, I am presenting at the HPX 2017 Knowledge Exchange Conference in Dublin. In addition to a one-day hackathon for performance analysts (#abbotsthon17), I am presenting in a technology strand on the topic of ‘Are we there yet?‘. In it I hope to be addressing the issues Mark raises generally in his work and in his post specifically.

His post and the preparations for the October conference have taken me back to work that engrossed me in the 1990s. David Perkins and Tina Blythe from Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education helped me think critically about putting understanding up front in my teaching and coaching.

In a 1994 paper, David and Tina share their performance perspective on understanding. This perspective proposes that:

understanding is a matter of being able to do a variety of thought-demanding things with a topic … and representing the topic in a new way. (1994:5)

And that:

understanding is being able to carry out a variety of “performances” that show one’s understanding of a topic and, at the same time, advance it. (My emphasis.) (1994:6)

They add that “the mainstay of learning for understanding must be actual engagement in those performances”.

An understanding approach in Project Zero comprised four key concepts:

  • Generative topics
  • Understanding goals
  • Understanding performances
  • Ongoing assessment

This teaching for understanding approach:

is meant only as a guide, which keeps the focus on understanding while allowing teachers room to design units and courses that suit their particular styles and priorities as practitioners in their disciplines. (1994:7)

I see this approach to be connected closely with the conversations Mark and Ric will have with the coaches that join them on their relearn journeys. I imagine the conversations might explore how teachers and coaches constructively align how they create opportunities for performances of understanding that are tested in authentic ways in training environments.

Photo Credits

Over there (Dean Donaldson, CC BY 2.0)

relearn Team Sports (Mark Upton)

Times Square tilt-shift (zonalpony, CC BY-NC 2.0)

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