By Mr. Matt Hottmann, English teacher, basketball & tennis coach
LEARNING TRANSFORMS US.
Lately my mind has been wrestling through two primary topics: the process and the unseen. I think both relate to the Beaverton High School experience.
First, given that my wife is a Tennessee Volunteer, I happened upon a video by former Vol defensive back turned inspirational speaker, Inky Johnson. His mantra is that “the process saved his life.” I’ll steer clear of telling his story in far less eloquent terms than he, but his lesson is that the everyday habits and responsibilities we curate are what enable us to tackle adversity. As I look at my classroom, I find the same to be true. It might not be about learning the cross-price elasticity of two goods (though it certainly will be on the Unit 2 exam), but perhaps it is about developing the skills to learn that formula in the first place. I had many students realize they didn’t quite understand and then came in for help during Beaver Lodge. This process of learning and discovery and resiliency cannot be learned through the instruction of easy things. So perhaps the process of education and pushing oneself and consistently doing the work is ultimately more important than being able to recall the definition of demand elasticity in a few years. Perhaps.
And perhaps the process is also how one accumulates knowledge. Maybe it is the consistent process of thinking critically and being able to see nuance. Maybe more important than being able to sit down and calculate a percentage is the ability to sense when it has been done incorrectly. This inkling that something is amiss can only be developed through a process of inquiry and consistent thinking and experience.
The other concept that I have been wrestling with lately comes from my AP Economics curricula. That course stresses the subtlety of the unseen playing an important role in our lives. Both opportunity cost and Smith’s “Invisible Hand” hint at the idea that there are unseen elements that need to be accounted for. I think this week is a primary example of the unseen benefits of being at Beaverton High School. Yes, I sincerely believe that calculating marginal revenue is important, but so is putting on a homecoming assembly for a crowd of 2,000. When our leadership class goes through that process, quite a bit of learning is occurring. They are learning how to organize. They are learning how to be aware of their audience. They are learning how to connect and move a crowd and they are learning to be flexible if a microphone is accidentally turned off. Far more learning can occur in the unseen than in the rote dictation by a teacher.
The same type of learning is undeniably present on our fields and in our auditoriums. Students are learning about how to connect with others, how to face adversity, and how to balance their time and expectations. Our football players are learning how to recognize visual cues through extensive video research and then what their appropriate response should be to that formation, often demanding that response in a split second. Our musicians are learning how to hear and coordinate with the musicians around them. Our thespians are learning how to display authenticity with their voices and their body language.
All of these things are occurring at Beaverton High School and none of it has to do with direct classroom instruction. As I look back at those who have taught me in life, I can rarely articulate what exact thing was said to make me learn, but I can clearly identify what it is I learned. Sometimes the best learning isn’t directly measurable, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t occurred. These unseen lessons are why I love the comprehensive high school, especially BHS.