Last night the local ASTD chapter hosted a session about game-based learning and how the ROI stacks up against traditional learning models. The topic was right up my alley, but I decided not to attend in favor of a different kind of game-based learning. I attended a little league baseball game.
Playing organized ball gives my son three classes a week in the following subject areas:
Teamwork – This one is a given. If they don’t play as a team, they don’t win. Last night’s lesson taught them what happens when you point fingers. While you’re too busy placing blame to pay attention, the other team is scoring a run on you.
Focus – This is a hard one, especially on a weeknight. They’ve had a long day at school, and dinner was probably a pb&j in the car. The first inning we looked sluggish and tired. We made many simple mistakes. But one of his teammates had a valid excuse – he was playing sick. He stepped up to the plate and I heard his mom offer encouragement. “You’re going to have to focus. You can do this.” He sniffled, lifted his head, and knocked that ball right down the middle.
Confidence – My son struck out in the first inning. That might have been my fault. I was trying to be encouraging. I probably made him nervous. So when it was his turn to bat again in the third, I said nothing. I just watched as he missed one, missed two. My heart sank a little when the ump yelled “Moneyball!” And then he hit it over the fence. Pandemonium broke out as he took his victory lap and was lifted up by the coach. He rode that wave through the remaining innings, and he took all his teammates with him.
At the end of each season, my son has grown more focused, more confident, and he understands a little more that he is an integral part of something bigger than himself. That kind of ROI beats any financial reward.