Education and baseball

by 2:23 PM 5 comments
So I am a huge Cubs fan. Yup, one of "those guys" that cheers for a team destined to lose (I am an Iowa State grad as well, there is a theme). So as it rains outside, and my daughter naps, I subject myself to the Cubs vs. Phillies. I used to do the fantasy baseball, but I got so caught up in numbers, I stopped enjoying the game. I have been two years clean of fantasy baseball (although I still play fantasy football). But the numbers are my point.

Baseball scouts are kind of like teachers not embracing tech; but they still bring the human element. 
Baseball has always been about numbers: BA, RBI, ERA, OBP, OBP + Slug, Fielding %, and the like. But scouts (old men who go out and "see" how a player plays) are becoming the way of the past. I read Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, when it first came out (well before the movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed). I understand that there are some very intricate numbers and formulas for objectively figuring out who will be a good player (sabermetrics). And I love getting caught up in that, but it doesn't have to be one way or the other.

So I thought about education. How are we using the tools, the numbers, and the information we're given to make "the game" better? Add the technology: the one thing baseball may be missing, and I think we are giving the students the right tools to make the most of their learning experience. Can we make it better? Absolutely. We need the human element to make the technology useful - make the numbers mean something. If we give students tools, teach them the right way to take advantage of them, then we are doing more good for our future (for lack of a better adjective).

Len and Bob (the Cubs' television announcers) are introducing sabermetric stats throughout the season (Stats Sundays), and today introduced and explained BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play). One idea per week will eventually change the knowledge base of the audience. And in the end, isn't that what we're doing as educators?




I do a lot of things. The best thing I do is fathering (I think). I'm the ol' "Jack of all trades, Master of none." I teach aspiring journalists. I run. I play guitar(s). I also host a running podcast. Oh, and I dabble in drawing. And I dabble in authoring... children's books no less. I just dabble. Sometimes I ramble.


  1. The problem as I see it is that it isn't just about the tools. It's about the whole sytstem. We can continue to add technology, and even use it effectively, but until we start to look at education in a different way, on a wide scale, we will continue getting what we have always have.

    When we use technology effectively, and start valuing things like creativity, ingenuity, sharing globally, collaboration, finding authentic problems and their solutions and harnessing the power of passion, that is when true learning will happen en masse.

    Until then, infuse all the technology we want, but...

    1. I think that is what sabermetrics is doing with baseball (making a change to the way the game is being played, managed, viewed); and I think we are at the start of that with education.

      And... I agree with you.

  2. My students are currently working on creating a "Schooltopia" in my English class. In our research on the history of public education in America we've discovered that many of the purposes for public education we still cite today are well over two hundred years old.

    The "numbers" are often used to compare our success with the success of other countries around the world. It seems too many people making decisions about education want to chant "USA! USA! USA!" But, education isn't a sporting event. We shouldn't be competing against other countries. As long as we see education as our key to dominating world competition rather than our key to collaborating with the world, we're all losers.

    1. Awesome work on that project! And while I agree about collaboration, I still think there is place for a little competition, so that we don't become complacent.

    2. While I agree with Rob that competition has its place, I think we overemphasize our "standing" in the world based on numbers provided from a test. The interesting thing is I think we could improve our test scores by emphasizing the pieces I mentioned in my first comment. The test scores will take care of themselves.