The labor market in Atlanta has changed dramatically. In my line of work, prior to the Great Recession, it used to be we employed a lot of immigrant Americans. Lately, we have been hiring many native born Americans. Simultaneously, I have seen the quality of the candidate pool fall off significantly. This has been a learning experience on many levels, but probably the largest for me is the real impact of quality of education, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Much of the work we do does not require a high school education. It is very demanding, and requires many things, but for many positions, graduating high school isn’t a requirement. Interestingly, in the past, I have not given this much consideration. However, lately I have noticed a correlation between the lack of finishing high school, or having a low quality high school education, and what amounts to a virtual learning disability.
This is not a scientific study. This is simply my own observation. There is clearly not a direct causation, whereas many of our employees came from backgrounds of little, to virtually zero, formal education, however we did not encounter the problems we are experiencing now.
Inability to follow multi-step instructions. Lack of recognition between cause and effect. Shifting of personal responsibility. Lack of carry-over of experience to correlated, though not duplicate, scenarios. Inability to see implications of basic life decisions. Failure to correlate those decisions to current life circumstances. Trouble showing for work on time. Tendency to shift blame for repeated tardiness. Problems learning new basic job skills and responsibilities.
All issues you would expect to find in individuals with developmental learning disabilities.
In the past, I never really found these to be significant issues, and if they were, they were isolated experiences. Now, it seems that a huge proportion of candidates struggle with some or many of these issues. These issues seem to correlate strongest with native born candidates and low quality high school education. Either failure to complete high school, or graduating from low-quality schools and low-quality systems.
I can’t say definitively what the cause is. It could be the labor pool in general, across the board. We have seen a drop in quality candidates in general. It could be the lack of quality high school education, has ill-prepared these people for life so significantly, that well into adulthood, they are unable to compensate. It could be that these people had existing learning, developmental, social issues that are similarly reflected in their inability to succeed in high school.
I can say that anecdotally, for Americans, the effect of low-quality high school education is tantamount to having a developmental learning disability.
Sometimes the game is just a game. Sometimes the game is so much more than a game.
This soccer season closed out with three ‘W’s for the weekend for our family. My philosophy and approach is that winning is a secondary goal. An eventual by-product of training the fundamentals. Also, particularly in the younger age groups, a coach can win games, but not develop his players. This has the near-term feel good payoff of bragging rights, but as the kids grow, if their skills don’t grow as well, they’ll be left behind. The memories of those wins will fade, and they’ll fall out of the sport.
This isn’t some new-age, feel-good, self-esteem, non-competitive mumbo-jumbo. I’m hyper-competitive. I reel emotionally for days after a less-than stellar result (let alone a loss.) This is a cognitive view developed from years of competition, and understanding what the real goal is.
It is critical, above most else, that the kids learn to love the sport. This love is developed through positive reinforcement, encouragement, and a sense of mastery. It is essential they feel that they, themselves, are actually mastering the sport or skill set. Simply being a one-dimensional cog in a winning machine is not enough to hold them. I’ve seen plenty of these teams dominate in early years, only to become irrelevant when the game advances. Pick your sport, this is the case across the board.
After all the player development and fundamentals, sometimes you and your players just need a good old-fashioned Win to validate
my your stance. My girls closed the season out with that win.
It’s a pretty simple thing. We work primarily on individual skills, we do some small-sided work. We do very little set-play work, minimal team tactical work. Plenty of time for heavy tactics later. I know this approach will help the girls develop. However, it is risky. They are encouraged to take chances. I play them out of their comfort zone. There is a cost sometimes on game day. We have wins, losses, and draws. We improve against teams game-over-game. My approach sometimes struggles in a world of wins and losses.
This weekend the girls started out flat, and we got behind. I struggled to find the right adjustments and substitutions, but we were fairly far behind in the second half. Finally something clicked. I got the combination right. More importantly, the girls started actually applying their fundamentals. They started executing their 2v2 and 3v3 situations. They started using their skills. They made passes to the right spots. They started scoring. The successes encouraged them. The opposing coaches scrambled. They subbed. They swapped out the whole front line. My girls brought the score even.
The last (winning) goal was a free kick, a perfect kick. Over the top of the wall, just under the cross-bar. A set play. Not a set play we practiced ad nauseam, but fundamentals we practiced ad nauseam, then executed, under pressure, at the whistle, in the last game of the season (In this case striking fundamentals.)
In the end, the Win came from the fundamentals. Validation.
Sometimes the game is so much more than just a game.
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