Yesterday The T hosted a College-style squash match. 2 Teams, 9 players each, arranged in order of skill level from 1-9. Each match counts the same amount toward the team total, first team to 5 wins. Our teams were Harvard vs Cornell, corresponding to the collegiate teams where The T’s two coaches played as college squash players.
It was a great event, with Cornell earning a hard-fought 6-3 victory. There was one beautiful moment that I want to share. After the match, one of our budding 8 year old squash players came up to me and said “Where do you think I should go to college? I want to go somewhere where I can play squash!”
This may seem a typical child-like aspiration (like I want to be a fireman). But I believe it is more than that. In fact, it is exactly the kind of aspiration we try to ignite in children. This is an aspiration born of hard work – this 8 year has already been playing squash for 2 years – and realism – he already knows a little about college squash. Both his coaches played college squash, he understands that a college squash player is a student and an athlete, he has already played in two college-style squash matches at The T and he has already traveled to 2 national level tournaments (and was thumped). There is some realism to what this boy is aspiring to. He is consciously setting his mind and will in the direction of a lofty goal that has attracted him. He wants to be part of a group of individuals (college squash student / athletes) that he admires.
We think this is great. We believe that when we give children a healthy target to focus their aspirations we are igniting a fuel tank of motivation and desire that will propel them toward learning and progress. The ignition of this inner engine is the vital work of early childhood learning. It is the beginning of a multi-year process and something we celebrate when we see it.