The conventional wisdom holds that responsible parents need to enroll their children in team sports. Our society says: Because collaboration and teamwork are so important in contemporary culture, it’s vital to start early in incorporating these skills in our lives. Team sports – often soccer now but traditionally baseball, or hockey in higher latitudes – are allegedly a panacea for isolated children.
Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t learn to be a good teammate during my three years playing little league or my three years playing hockey. My coaches were focused on winning, and so our practices consisted primarily of individual skills training and scrimmages. Neither are the perfect way to build a sense of community or team. As a not particularly athletic child, I was focused on catching up and not screwing up.
I certainly agree that with the right coach, a team could undoubtedly learn many valuable life lessons from a summer on the baseball diamond. But I reject the certainty of those who say that all those who play will learn to be good collaborators.Choir is also a great place to learn teamwork. And since it’s ever more important to develop that skill in our students, the collaboration habit should be one we discuss about every day.