Skip to comments.Pyramid scheme works
Posted on 06/16/2010 7:42:29 AM PDT by ancientart
When I first started coaching age-group swimming (almost 40 years ago), I made a copy of the late John Wooden's Pyramid of Success to use with my swimmers, the 100 or so 5- to 18-year-old kids who made up the Amador Polar Bears.
My girlfriend (now my wife) wasn't terribly impressed with my artistic efforts and made for me a much nicer poster-board version of the pyramid.
For 15 years, I began each swimming season by going over the basic elements of the pyramid with my swimmers. I used the pyramid also at the little Christian schools where I served as athletic director and coach. When I got to Northern in 1988, the pyramid came with me, and, though it was now quite a bit worse for wear, I put it in a prominent place in my office.
Somehow, Northern basketball coach Don Meyer heard about my now-ratty homemade version of the pyramid and sent me a much more professional-looking printed and laminated version. I now keep that copy of the Success Pyramid on my office bulletin board right above my desk, partly as a reminder of those happy days when they called me coach, but even more as a reminder of what good teaching (not just coaching) should be all about.
At the base of his pyramid, Wooden placed five fundamental character traits: industriousness, friendship, loyalty, cooperation and enthusiasm. Other pyramid elements include self-control, team-spirit, confidence, integrity, honesty, sincerity, faith and patience.
Now there's nothing deep or profound about the Pyramid of Success: just plenty of good common sense, and one little bit of magic - the John Wooden name. Sharing Art Marmorstein's Pyramid of Success wouldn't have inspired my swimmers nearly as much as knowing that they were following the philosophy of one of the greatest coaches ever.
And the indirect Wooden influence lasts and lasts. A few years ago, an article in the Amador Ledger-Dispatch talked about the current version of the Polar Bears as heirs to a tradition of good citizenship, morality and sportsmanship that earlier swim team members passed on, noting that former Polar Bears are among the best citizens that Amador County has produced over the years.
In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education claimed we were a nation at risk, that America would lose its position as a world leader if academic standards were not improved. In response, we've spent billions of dollars and countless hours trying to devise and measure appropriate student outcomes and to improve academic performance. But it seems to me we've missed something fundamental: emphasis on the character traits essential to academic or any other kind of success.
A few years back, teachers and administrators in Aberdeen and throughout the nation embraced Character Counts, a program designed to teach values very similar to those of Wooden's Success Pyramid. This is a step in the right direction. The tremendous achievements of coaches like John Wooden and Don Meyer show that, if you really want to get to the top of the game, it's essential to put character first, emphasizing things like industriousness, loyalty, cooperation and enthusiasm.
And no matter what a box score or a standardized test might say, it's the coaches, athletes, students and teachers who adopt such an approach who end up with the W in the only scorebook that really counts.
A picture of the pyramid is on this page..
pyramids are great as long as you are not at the bottom
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.