Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Seeing the Whole Court; or Notes on Successful & Struggling Collegiate Students

These days, for the illest passes, folks might look to Chris Paul or Ricky Rubio, cats who can really dish the rock. I still have memories of about 20 years ago when I saw the 1992 televised Mcdonald's All-American high school basketball game, where a young Jason Kidd was ripping up and down the court throwing all kinds of shift and tricky passes. He could, as b-ball folks say, see the whole court.

Keen court vision and the ability of knowing where to be on the court (i.e. moving without the ball) are two hallmarks of a high IQ in basketball. Can those kinds of qualities translate into academic fields? In particular, I wonder what vision and sense of positioning might mean for college students.

Some of the most successful and talented students I have encountered over the years have had what amounts to really good court vision. They seem to see possibilities where others might not see an opening. They seem to have a range of insight on how the college works, how to connect to professors, the politics of classrooms and different courses.     

That insight is often linked to how and where those apparent successful and talented students position themselves. They seem to know when and where to interact with professors; they have a sense of what types of reading and learning to do beyond the required classroom materials; and they have a sense of the different kinds of social communities to associate with on and beyond campus.   

I've enjoyed watching students matriculate. In my mind's eye, I view some of their accomplishments the way I watch those b-ball highlight mixes on youtube. Good stuff.

For the most part, the apparent successful students seem to show up at the university having honed some of those advanced skill sets (keen vision and positioning knowledge) before they arrived on campus. They are--perhaps rightly--rewarded for their accomplishments.

But what about the other students who aren't high achievers? Their struggles are often linked to problems that they have histories too. Seems that we should put more thought into the disparities between those who struggle and those who succeed at a high level.

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