Wednesday, October 02, 2013

American jocks are dumb and destroying schools, even if the evidence shows otherwise.

So, yeah, the dumb jock stereotype. 

Funny how that stereotype hangs out in society and is an accepted part of educational system.  It’s interesting that while stereotyping Liberal Arts is frowned upon because they are of such a pronounced intellect, picking on the high school athlete is really cool because we all know that the athletic culture within a high school is full of idiots. 

Isn’t that right Ms. Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker?

Of course, Mr. Evidence might have something else to say about that.

“Seventy-six percent of 6- to 12-year-olds reported participating in some sports in 1997 and in 2007, 56% of high school students reported playing on one or more sports teams organized by their school or community in the previous 12 months.” –U.S. Centers for Disease Control (2010)

Now you calm down, Mr. Evidence.  You’ll get your say when the moment arises.  Right now, Eliz has the floor to explain how the “sports culture” that over half of America’s school participate in is ruining education.

“High school students that participate in sports have higher grades and standardized test
scores in mathematics and language arts courses (Broh, 2002). McNeal (1995) found that student
athletes were 1.7 times less likely to drop out of school. High school student athletes have also
self-reported higher education aspirations, diligence in homework completion, and lower
absenteeism, compared to students that do not participate in sports (Marsh, 1992).” –Journal of Research in Education (2013)

HEY Evidence, knock it off!  Give the esteemed Literature major from Yale, Ms. Kolbert, her say!  Ok Elizabeth….what say you?

“That American high schools lavish more time and money on sports than on math is, I know, an old complaint………But, as another school year starts, it is a lament worth revisiting.”

What is totally amusing about this statement is how dead ass wrong it actually is.  Take for instance, my salary.  I’ve been teaching for 13 years so you could assume that as a public school teacher in rural Northern California, I don’t make that much money.  However, two of me  manages to pay for every single coach, piece of equipment, official, and scorekeeper on this campus of 1,600 kids.  Let’s see, that includes:

-Football, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Boys and Girls Golf, Boys and Girls Water Polo, Volleyball, Boys and Girls Basketball, Boys and Girls Wrestling, Boys and Girls Track, Boys and Girls Swimming, Baseball, Softball.

Everything else comes from sports boosters or parents or coaches.  Basically high school athletics is one of the best bangs for your buck in terms of teaching.

On the academic end our tax dollars pay for every instructor, aide, textbook, worksheet, conference, Professional Learning Community, and such.  Oh, and time?  I measured up the time I spend with my students in the classroom (hours) to the number of hours I spend with my basketball team (including nights and weekends).  Much more time is spent just in the classroom with kids only, that doesn’t count prep work, meetings, tutoring, meeting with kids after school, or grading work.  It’s not really even close.  And I’d consider myself very involved in the basketball program at Ukiah High School.  So, no, more time and money are not being spent on athletics. 

“Nearly all the associations between extracurricular physical activity and
indicators of academic performance
were either positive (52%) or neutral (46%).” -U.S. Centers for Disease Control (2010)

Dammit Evidence, hold on!

Go ahead, Ms. Kolbert.

“Sports, (Amanda) Ripley (author of Smartest Kids in the World) writes, were “the core culture of Gettysburg High.” In Wroclaw (Poland), by contrast, if kids wanted to play soccer or basketball after school they had to organize the games themselves. Teachers didn’t double as coaches and the principal certainly never came out to cheer. Thus, “there was no confusion about what school was for—or what mattered to the kids’ life chances.”

First of all, the focus is on those idiotic PISA science and math scores, and there is plenty of reason towards the conclusion that A) those test scores mean nothing academic, and B) they show all kinds of problems about poverty in society.  But I digress back to Liz’s point of “what school was for" and “what mattered to the kids’ life chances.”  Kolbert did not play sports, and therefore she does not realize the importance of sports to the young American teenager in developing those skills necessary for success: collaboration, work ethic, the ability to think on your feet, competitive edge, the necessity to listen, sportsmanship, compassion, and the ability to mentor younger generations.  Sorry Ms. Kolbert, students are not learning that in the classroom, and most students don’t learn that in the classroom because in the classroom they. are. learning. MATH!  There you go.  Math, the most critical of all job skills.  Who cares about the other skills, right?

“One of the ironies of the situation is that sports reveal what is possible. American kids' performance on the field shows just how well they can do when expectations are high and they put their minds to it. It’s too bad that their test scores show the same thing.”

And Ms. Kolbert’s education from Yale concludes that it’s the sports.  Check the title of the article she wrote 


Pretty much sums up her thesis.  Although from where I’m sitting the problem might be enabling parents, misguided principals, disengaged teachers, and Kolbert’s own bias towards the “dumb jock” syndrome.  Way to perpetuate a stereotype, Liz.  I’m sure my Advanced Placement students, nearly all athletes, will love an opinion from a bitter liberal arts junky who is pissed off for being cut from the high school tennis team. 

See what I did there?  Sure you did.  Oh Evidence….

“Is participation in extracurricular physical activities at school related to academic performance?

• Yes…... More than half of the associations examined in these studies were positive (52% overall), and almost none were negative (2%). Of note, GPA was positively associated with extracurricular physical activity 12 of the 22 times it was measured. Two studies also examined the association between extracurricular activities and dropout rates and found that participation was linked to decreased high school dropout rates.” – U.S. Center for Disease Control (2010)

  Moving on……

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