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Professor Coach

I've noticed a peculiar dichotomy in academia--when an instructor tells students to do an unpleasant or seemingly random or arbitrary assignment, they catch all kinds of grief--if they're really lucky they get an email from the chair or dean regarding a student complaint. When the athletic coach tells the players to run the bleachers or other mundane, aerobic punishment/task, there is grumbling (but only under the breath) and they do it. No one seems to question the coach for apparently random or arbitrary tasks.

Perhaps one reason for this is that subconsciously, the player realizes that the task will get them in better shape for the game and make them a better player or related reason. Yet, as faculty, we get, "Why do we have to learn this? I'll never use this again!" etc. They recognize the coach's wisdom and authority for training them in athletics but not ours for training them in their major. They recognize that running the bleachers increases both their lung capacity and their coordination, even though they don't literally run bleachers in the game. They don't recognize that the brain needs training in mental pathways just as much as the body, so some of the exercises we give are designed to do this, even though they WILL NEVER literally do that activity again.

It's funny, when I point this out to students, they typically get a sheepish grin, and get to work.


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