Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Have you ever played "Pickleball"?

This morning I had a wonderful experience. I played "pickleball" with my wife and our neighbors. I had no idea what to expect when I accepted the invite to attend this match, and after an hour and a half, I came away convinced that this was fun, energizing, and educationally relevant for people to learn to play.

According to the grand oracle, 'pickleball" is a racquet sport which combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. The sport is played on a court with the same dimensions as a doubles badminton court. The net is similar to a tennis net, but is mounted two inches lower. The game is played with a hard paddle and a polymer wiffle ball.

The game started during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island at the home of Congressman Joel Pritchard, US House of Representatives for the State of Washington. He and two of his friends, returned from golf and found their families bored one Saturday afternoon. They attempted to set up badminton but no one could find the shuttlecock. They improvised with a whiffle ball, lowered the badminton net, and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.

The unusual name of the game originated with Joan Pritchard, who said it reminded her of the "Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats." The popular story told today is that it was named after the family dog. Joan corrected this story in interviews but the story persists. As the story is told, the whiffle ball belonged to the dog. Whenever an errant shot happened, Pickles would run and try to get the ball and hide it. They named the game for their dog’s ball, “Pickles’ Ball”, then it became Pickleball. It's a good story, but the truth is the Pritchard family didn't get the dog until 1967. Actually, the dog was named after the sport.

Whatever the truth of the story, I bring this game to my readers attention because it is an example of something that was created from what was lying around for the purpose of getting people involved, active, and learning. Isn't that what true education is all about in the end? Are people learning, contributing, active within their environment? There was no state exam to test conceptual and perceptual understanding, just a few people playing a simple game with simple rules,and enjoying themselves.

We need more inventive, and creative people to do the same thing with education. We need people willing to create and be creative with children, and not succumb to the belief testing is the only way to learn.

By the way, my team won 3 out of the 4 matches this morning. I love to learn.