Too Busy Winning (Remix)

There are a thousand areas where educators can direct their attention. It is hard to know where you will get the most return on your energy investment. Be careful not to dedicate your valuable time to something that might come across as impactful, but ultimately has little to no benefit on student learning.

Happy Gilmore’s Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald) is a highly unlikeable character. The man is trying to steal a sweet grandmother’s home. As much as you grow to hate Shooter over the course of the movie, in this scene he is absolutely correct.

Shooter just finished winning another golf tournament. Instead of focusing on his victory, the media is solely concerned with Shooter’s opinion of new golf pro, Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler). Not a single question about his performance. Rather, several questions about Happy’s extraordinary ability to drive the ball over 400 yards.

Obviously upset, Shooter provides two of my favorite quotations when pressed to discuss Happy: “I was too busy winning” and “Yeah, how’d he finish again? Dead last?” At this point in the movie, Happy is a circus act, with no real golf game. Shooter has every right to be upset with the line of questions, as the emphasis should be on his performance.

Shooter’s Game in Teaching Terms

  • High expectations for students
  • Thoughtful/Meaningful feedback on assignments
  • Consistency with systems and structures
  • Utilization of data to make informed decisions about instruction
  • Collaboration with Professional Learning Committee (PLC)

Happy’s Game (before learning how to putt) in Teaching Terms

  • Aesthetics over content
  • Constant changing of daily routines
  • Open ended projects with long periods of independent work time for students
  • Making instructional decisions based on creativity/uniqueness of assignment instead of starting with standards
  • Using personal perception (“How did I feel students did”) without reviewing quantitative results

Students may request to be in Happy’s class, because it’s natural to gravitate towards the new and shiny. But it’s the Shooters of the world that, year in and year out, push students to maximize their potential.

In education, winning is all about teaching and learning. Make sure you’re “Too busy winning” by focusing on the most effective instructional strategies.

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