Hangman is Dead! Long Live Hangman!
Sat across from the breakfast table this week I was watching a parent play a game of hangman with her son. If you don’t know the game you have to guess the letters in the mystery word and fill in the spaces. Each time you guess wrong a part of the hangman’s gallows, rope and body is drawn. You have to guess the word before the picture is complete. If you have never played then, like all things today, there is an app!
Except this was a different game. Guess a letter, keep guessing, no gallows, no penalty for guessing wrong. The kid was kinda having fun and I am not being critical of this parent but this seems to be endemic of the world we are raising kids in. In our version of hangman you had fun too, but sometimes you lost, sometimes you won. In today’s version you only win and it feels like it lacks purpose, lacks an edge and certainly won’t help to teach a child about the very basics of the world around us.
As a parent have I taken actions that have no exchange or no penalty for my child? For sure! Do I kick myself for doing it now? Absolutely. The point is that the best games are about risk and reward, making things easy doesn’t make things more fun it makes them less fun. Of course, if the parent had chosen a word that was not in the child’s vocabulary then the game would be equally pointless, so there is a level of appropriate challenge but that is a different topic.
If you want your child to survive the frost you can’t grow them in a glasshouse. Little loses won’t hurt your child, they will only make them stronger! At the heart of how we teach, how we set up competition and how we decide the level of a task we have to remember that each step is about helping a child to grow.
Long live hangman!
Mike Barrell – Director evolve9
Mike is the Founder and CEO of evolve9. The mission of the organization is very simple, to help federations and providers design and implement tennis programs that specifically meet the needs of children. A Level 5 LTA Coach, PTR Pro and ITF Clinician, Mike has delivered training and presentations in over 60 countries.
He was the author of the ITF Tennis10s manual and has been a keynote speaker at three ITF Worldwide Conferences, and presented at the USPTA World Conference three times. He has has recently been involved in the development of Evolution, now the National U10 program of Serbia, Tennis Whizz and the Girls Tennis Network. Mike continues to work with clubs across the US including Sportime NY, Midtown and Tennis CT, helping them to fully implement child centered principles in their programs with aim of engaging, retaining and developing more players.