Teaching the next generation of GOATs

“The most important measure of how good a game I played, was how much better I’d made my teammates play.”

  Author: Bill Russell

Language, like all of us, has to be adaptable. New words and acronyms are tossed into the mix, many of which find a way into the latest news items, editorial reviews, Instagram memes, and then, the latest editions of dictionaries. Contractions and expressions define new trends; lexicons that did not exist a few months ago become infused into our daily dialects.

One such acronym is G.O.A.T – initially referring to the sporting superstars who are regarded and acknowledged as the Greatest of All Times, like Muhammed Ali, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, and Tom Brady to name a few; and now this GOAT acronym might refer to a wine label, a music album, an artist, an actor, a communal leader (endorsed by fans with an animal emoji).

To be considered a GOAT, you would have to demonstrate all your achievements, measured against all others in your field – the number of tournaments won, goals scored, medals and trophies awarded, world records broken and number of times you would have driven yourself (and your team) into the lead, over and over again. To be considered a GOAT, there needs to be evidence of your winnings, records of your triumphs, and public celebrations of your noteworthy successes.

What interests me, is not so much the collection of raw data, the statistics and the scores, but rather the human qualities that support and promote a GOAT’s accomplishments. To become a GOAT there is no doubt you would have to have the psychological resilience to push through adversity, to learn from your experiences and to be continually motivated to reset your goals.

Each GOAT has their own life-story; and as with any compelling and inspirational story, there are characters, a plot, the setting and the over-arching themes that bring the story to life and invite the spectators to take notice and connect. These stories are different for different people, of course, but there are some common qualities that set these extraordinary humans apart from others. GOATS are not only great achievers in their field, but they are truly inspirational in their capacity to demonstrate qualities such as tenacity, perseverance, commitment, diligence, responsibility, focus, passion, self-discipline, determination, courage, ingenuity, integrity and honour.

GOATs are aware of their place and capacity to influence and inspire – they use their greatness to open doors and offer new opportunities to others, making the way for the next possible GOAT. They are motivated to make a positive difference to the lives of others, committed to giving back and generously stepping up to create new landscapes of possibilities, drawing back the curtain and shining a spotlight on the next emerging talent.

Together, we are raising a new generation of thoughtful, kind and highly capable children. We see many who shine brightly now, and who still have a whole life ahead. We definitely do not want our children to suffer, experience unnecessary hardship, or face adversity. However, we do want them to have courage, to be resilient and to succeed; and if not become the next GOAT, then at least work towards being an extraordinary human, an inspirational leader, or a benevolent philanthropist, or creator of life-changing opportunities for others. We want our children to live honourable lives, to have a passion and a focus, to have self-discipline and respect for others. At the very least, if our children are not going to become the next GOAT, then, I am sure you will agree, we certainly want them to be an awesome kid! (pun intended).

At our school, right from the very beginning, we pride ourselves on giving each child the chance to become a truly fabulous human. We guide their responses, celebrate their thinking, facilitate their interactions, and scaffold their experiences so that they come to know and appreciate what it means to be both brave and considerate. It is by learning the lessons offered by GOATS that our children will come to sense that the giving of oneself to others sets you apart and becomes our collective hope for a better future.

On Wednesday, our Primary School is hosting a mini-athletics carnival for many of our ELC children. The morning is carefully planned to encourage each child to participate in a range of activities, whilst representing a team. If we get it right, and we usually do, then each child will, even for a brief moment, have a sense of what sportsmanship is about. It goes beyond the scores as each child carries home the feeling of being a part of something special. It is this feeling we want them to hold onto, in the hope that they will feel a sense of belonging, and a possibility of greatness.

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About the author

Cathy Milwidsky is the Director of Early Learning and Development at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW

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