Saturday, August 5, 2017

#ManUtdEDU - Learning Through the Lens and Spirit of Manchester United

I am sure many people who have visited my website, seen my social media posts or viewed my Twitter bio have wondered what the heck #ManUtdEDU is. Well wonder no more! For those who know me, I am a rabid supporter of the Manchester United Football Club. Manchester United Football club is regularly one of the top five most valuable sports franchises on the planet. It is the most successful club in the more than 100 year history of the English Football (Soccer) Association. It has won multiple European and World Championship trophies as well.

My obsession with Manchester United began in the 1990s as they enjoyed a period of never-before-seen dominance. The club's ability to identify young talent and mesh it with experienced veterans fascinated me. This ability to mesh youth and experience was due to the expert leadership of head coach Sir Alex Ferguson.

Sir Alex Ferguson is arguably the greatest coach in the history of team sports. Ferguson is famous for developing young talent and getting players to perform above and beyond their capabilities. The hallmark of his teams were countless last-second goals to win or salvage a draw. These last-second goals were aptly nicknamed "Fergie Time."

Sir Alex's teams were often characterized as "swashbuckling" due to his cavalier tactics and the players willingness to take risks necessary to play an attractive, effective brand of soccer. The fans in stands also got in on the act. When the team's play was stale and stagnant, the entire stadium would chant "Attack, Attack, Attack!" Almost immediately, the team's play was lifted and goals were never far away.

Much of Sir Alex's success was due to his ability to research and adapt ideas and motivational strategies from a variety of sources. Ferguson iss very well read on subjects such as American presidents, famous war generals as well as legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. He gleaned countless lessons from these sources, synthesized them and developed successful methods for leadership and getting the most out of his players.

Now what does this have to do with education? For me, I try to embody that same swashbuckling spirit in the classroom. I encourage students to to have a growth mindset, take risks and learn from mistakes. A #ManUtdEDU lesson is one where students are given voice and choice and also given a line of inquiry that fosters divergent thinking.

Like Sir Alex, I also do lots of reading and research to adapt my own methods of teaching, motivation and leadership. Edu-mentors such as George Couros, Matt Miller, Ed Campos, Jon Corippo and more have given me countless ideas. I have taken what I've gleaned from them and done my best to synthesize their ideas for my own purposes.

#ManUtdEDU is also a method I use to teach tech tools to both teachers and students. I use Manchester United information, statistics, history, videos, images and more as a way of demonstrating tools in a non-academic way. Since many of the teachers and students I work with are unfamiliar with Manchester United, they have a common starting point with the content. Being non-academic, it lowers their affective filter and teachers and students feel more comfortable learning an interesting fact all the while getting practice with a new tool.

For teachers and students who are familiar with Manchester United or support teams that are considered rivals, #ManUtdEDU gives me an immediate connection with that person. This connection may take the form of playful banter between myself and a fan of a rival team. The connection can be a feeling of solidarity between me and a fellow supporter. The connection can even take the form of someone not familiar with Manchester United forming a connection with a different sport or team.

Long story short, #ManUtdEDU is my attempt at injecting my passion into my teaching practice. Anyone can do this with anything about which they are passionate. If you're passionate about baseball, "edu it up". If you're passionate about animals, "edu it up". Whatever your passion is, "edu it up"!

Glory Glory Man United! 

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