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Procrustes’ Bed of Education

Procrustes’ Bed of Education

When I first went into education I became a reading supervisor and then the title was changed to curriculum supervisor to cover all subjects. So I brushed up on all subjects and loved math most of all.

I taught summer school and tutored kids in math. I taught them how to add, subtract, multiply and divide in different ways. The kids thought that it was great. They picked different methods but got the right answers. I had the teachers take the same approach.

A few years later I met with all the junior high chair people, and the math person complained about what we had done.

Division three ways? Unheard of…go back to one.

I replied, “Omnes via Roman ducunt.” As long as they get the right answer what is the problem?

When teachers in a given school are all forced to teach the same way, this is called the Procrustes’ Bed of education. This is not considered a good thing. One size fits all? Really?

I feel the same way about training soccer players and coaches. Is there really only one way? That seems a little tight considering the variety of players and coaches. And experience and physical stature for the players.

I have heard that a national association wants to do just that. Really? That is a step backward in teaching and training.

The really big thing missing in this equation of one size fits all is creativity. Ah, that is the word. I cannot tell you how much I stressed this concept with my teachers. Creativity. I even wrote a note book about this. (It must have been good; somebody stole it from me.)

I called my favorite coach in Holland and asked him about our world Cup soccer team. He praised us for organizational skills but said that we lacked creativity. Ah, there it is again.

Can you teach creativity from Procrustes’ Bed? I doubt it.

Alan Maher

You may recognize Alan Maher from his many articles published by FUNdamental Soccer over the last three decades. What you may not know is that for more than a quarter of a century Alan Maher was the chairman of printed training material for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. His articles can be read not only in NCAA's own magazine, Soccer Journal, but in every soccer magazine in the country. Alan also published the extremely educational/innovative "Attacking Soccer with the Neutral Player" book as a supplement to FUNdamental SOCCERS' popular '9-Step Practice Routine'.