I would like to point out that the competitions are not just about winning. Every student that participates in the Math Competition is a winner.
We practice one day a week for an hour at a time, starting in October. At practices we work on learning the rules of the games, learning strategy, we
talk about different strategies and let the students
discuss their insight to the strategy. Believe it or not, after coaching for nine years, I am still learning different strategies for the games. Each group of kids gives me a new insight. I like to say the games are like onions, once you think you have it mastered, you just realize you have peeled away a layer and then it is time to look deeper. The learning NEVER ends.
In addition to the above, the kids are working on how to represent North Hill with good sportsmanship, win or lose. This is an important part of the foundation of Math Pentathlon. They are required to shake hands before and after each competition. At tournament, students can lose points for poor sportsmanship. The kids are also learning about team building. At the beginning of the year, we work and practice together in groups of four, without challenges, we encourage each pair or group to help their teammate learn the game and to discuss and give insight into their strategy. In this way, each of our students are teachers. As we near tournament time, the students play against each other and practice challenges.
There are so many opportunities for learning and growth in Math Pentathlon. The kids grow academically and socially. It increases their confidence, gives them the opportunity to teach others and learn from others. These are the reasons I do not focus on winning.
Every student who goes to tournament is a winner. A winner because of their dedication and commitment, a winner because they have stretched their boundaries, a winner because they can look past winning and learn from their mistakes. I like to say, oftentimes, you learn more from losing then winning. And sometimes it is losing that gives the kids the courage to challenge in the next game, whether the next game be in 15 minutes or another year away. These are not Math Pentathlon lessons, these are life lessons!
MPT Coach at North Hill Elementary in Rochester, MI
Former SCD who started MPP at North Hill