Grabbing vs Sustaining.

So the Olympic trials have started (curling!), and that has me thinking. Oddly, about figure skating.

Let me explain.

It’s important to have an eye catching costume during a figure skating routine for a couple of reasons:

  • It captures your initial attention
  • It accentuates the movement of the skater
  • It helps tell the narrative story of the routine

All of these things are very important and also not. While they each serve their purpose, they exist only to further the actual demonstration of skill in the routine. That is to say, they adorn the skill and athleticism being shown on the ice. They are decoration. And at the highest levels of competition, when the differences between competitors are small and judgements must be made, those small adornments can matter.

In a classroom, there is no judging against competitors. When an educator presents, the only metric is the engagement they generate with students. To that end, we need to be wary about how much time and effort we invest in adornment. It’s ok to sweat the typeface and the transitions of your slides when there is no more ground to be gained in the content and delivery. The priorities of the skater must be clearly centered on the skating and not the costume, and there is no difference with education. Yes, details matter. The content, however, rules.