Whether it be sport, education or life, it can be easy to be typecast. The challenge is how to break this myth once it is established.
Glenn Maxwell: To Play or Not to Play, is that the Question?
When it comes to cricket, I am intrigued by Glenn Maxwell. On the one hand, he has shown the ability to achieve the unthinkable. Performing at the highest level, in a number of roles, with the bat, ball and in the field. Continually finding his way out of tricky situations through a mix of improvisation and creativity. This success and ability seems to have also been a part of his downfall as it has led to him being put in number of no win situations. Rather than seeing him cement himself in a particular position and subsequently a test career, he has seemingly been stuck playing something of a perpetual Mr. Fixit role.
In a recent interview with Sam Ferriss, Maxwell touches upon some of these challenges, one of which is the desire from selectors to just focus on white ball cricket.
Selection chairman Trevor Hohns said on Wednesday the National Selection Panel (NSP) want Maxwell to focus on white-ball cricket ahead of the 50-over World Cup in England later this year.
Maxwell shares the challenges associated with batting in six different positions in his first six test innings. With all the limited over cricket Maxwell has played, Ferriss suggests that in some ways it is amazing he has managed to play any test cricket. Some have blamed his character, the way he trains and his lack of runs and/or wickets. However, the biggest hurdle is often just opportunity:
If you are playing Shield cricket you’re not playing for Australia and if you’re playing for Australia you’re not playing Shield cricket.
Although he has taken the opportunity to play County cricket over the IPL, this is still restricted to just a few games. So much of his opportunities that Maxwell craves are therefore out of his hands.
This scenario has me thinking about education and the way in which teachers can be typecast into particular positions. Although this can be to the benefit of the school or system, it is often to the detriment of the individual.
Like Maxwell, I feel I have been thrown into a number of different situations as a Mr. Fixit. Whether it be to a change in staffing or timetable issues, personally they were often no win situations. Although I have the pedagogical nous, I did not always have the content knowledge to reference and build upon. In addition, these areas were often poorly supported with little room for development or innovation.
The catch is in an effort to break the Mr Fixit moniker you at the same time reinforce it. If you do poorly, then it justifies to some why you are just not good enough for what it is you were meant to be doing (even though that was not the reason given the change in roles), while if you do succeed this only adds to the myth made for you therefore earning yourself more Fix It jobs.
So often it feels like we talk about coaching and development until it no longer suits. Some argue that the answer is to move schools or change systems. However, just as it is not possible for Glenn Maxwell to go play test cricket for New Zealand it is not always possible to just move to the ideal role. Here lies the limit of a ‘solution focused’ approach that preaches ‘more runs’ or ‘different attitude’. The solution focus is to simply be grateful for what we have https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/03/west-virginia-oklahoma-protests-teacher-pay/555434/, especially when in Maxwell’s case it has the potential to earn him millions of dollars and to be glad that he has been able to play test cricket at all (see Jamie Siddons).
So what about you? How have you been supported to succeed? Are there sacrifices that you have had to make for sack of the students and the wider system? As always, comments welcome.
NOTE: I always did my best and was often the best fit for the position or maybe I simply cared more than others. This tendency though to have people teach outside of the expertise is a growing trend, especially around Mathematics.
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