Whack a mole or sort a course?

Author: AM Scott

Growing up as daughter of an agronomist, an understanding of the audacious foes of passionate greenkeepers on any golf course comes standard. Moles. These cheeky creatures hold ‘no skaam’, embody plenty of ‘goedpsa’ and deliver the ultimate contest to the man in charge of a smooth day’s play.

A solution to the pest is to whack their holes in one by one, so staying on top of the menace. Whack, whack, whack. In the main, this primal methodology yields results for that specific molehill. However, just as the feeling of victory descends, a new, well-tilled mound pops up, usually overnight. This is almost always followed by a dose of ‘adult ears only’ mutterings in the airwaves as the greenkeeper deals with the problem diligently. Notwithstanding his fury, this seasoned curator of all things grass keeps his greater focus on matters beyond the molehill troubles. He pays attention to the course; to the fairways and greens, to the weather and elements, to the people enjoying the game. Yes, he deals with each molehill and chases the critters away, but the long view receives his greater energy. How is the course? Are the bunkers raked and is the irrigation schedule sustaining the grass? Is the rough too rough? Are the greens smooth? Do players finish? Are they fulfilled? Is there enough challenge in the game to ensure the talented golfers are motivated to perform to their personal best?

You see, few players moan about molehills. Most players have a lot to say about the full experience from clubhouse to the eighteenth hole. It’s the course that secures both the criticism and the praise. The molehills are easily forgotten. It is the same through the course that is education across the lifetime of the child.

We should be sorting the course, not whacking moles.

Let’s draw on our recent shared experience of schooling our young. Globally, like a line-up of dominoes falling, countries confronted a pandemic. Systems designed for industrialised schooling were plummeted into chaos. What parents knew school to be wasn’t. What teachers and allied professionals in the education sector knew school to be wasn’t. The most powerful of all community partnerships, that being between a school and a home, had to respond with agility, adaptability and unprecedented effort to connect with one another, deliver curriculum content, strengthen skills mastery and secure emotional continuity for their charges. No teacher had ‘done this before’ let alone pivoted their entire practice in forty eight hours. Parents landed the unusual task of co-teaching and managing children at distance from their schools to protect against disruption to learning as much as possible. ‘Remote learning’, ‘schooling from home’, ‘blended learning’, ‘hybrid’ models and ‘hyflex teaching’ became the new modus operandi to support our children –  by imposition not by choice. Together, at home and at school, we whacked moles left, right and centre in a bid to endure the months of lock down and reintegration onto school campuses.

As change descended in March 2020, educators and parents rose to the occasion in the main. Initially, some were exhilarated, others felt completely overwhelmed. Exceptional levels of professionalism emerged in committed teachers who clocked and continue to offer hours well beyond ‘contracted agreement’. Worldwide, many adults opted out, failing children entirely. The esteemed home-school partnership was tested and the outcome correlated with levels of relationship, trust and respect across all stakeholders. Those with mettle, grit and purpose came through the first waves of the crisis. The molehills were flattened. The course was saved, for now.

We can apply the molehill principle beyond the “COVID years” as we will come to call these times, to a child’s school life, pandemic or not.

As a parent, are you whacking molehills daily or are you viewing your child’s thirteen years of school attendance as a course? Do you keep ‘greenkeepers’ busy whacking molehills, or do you free them to hold the long view? Do you hold a vision for your child that spans ‘clubhouse to eighteenth hole’? Have you partnered with seasoned educators and other professionals who can tend to the daily nourishment of your child through the course, so preparing your child for life ahead?

If your child is actively enrolled in a school at this point of the COVID19 pandemic, the attending staff is comprised of individuals with the grit, mettle and commitment described above. They have earned their credibility. Similarly, you are just as resilient and you’re doing a great job. There are molehills to whack but a course to sort, together. Take comfort and draw strength from knowing that we will see our children through – now, and over the distance.