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Friday, October 22, 2010

Crossfit and Classical Education

I am part of a group called Crossfit that promotes a full body workout and healthy living with trainers. Yesterday there was an interesting conversation about education and crossfit. If you took 120 hours of 100 and 200 level course would know a whole lot, but not really be employable. Crossfit helps you be a good/great overall athlete, but it doesn’t help you excel at necessarily a particular field. I didn’t interject my own opinion into the discussion, but I will here. The only comment I did make was “I’m trying to be good at sports, not exercise” which is clearly a utilitarian perspective of the work we do at the gym.

In Classical Education methods we teach the grammar first, at crossfit they do the same. You can’t do a power snatch until you know what it is and then practice with a plastic light weight tube until you get the motion correct. Then you can get a bar and add some weight. You will start light and slowly add more weight as you master each step. Each time you do a workout, even if you have done it before you still grab the plastic bar and practice the movement. In a Classical school the children will first memorize the facts, and they will practice until it is embedded in their minds. Then slowly they will add more facts (weight) or ideas to those facts (weight) and move on to more when they are ready. Each day they will then review those facts and add more.

Contrast this to the Modern Education and Globo Gym. Modern Education seeks to make you look good to employees, with little to no guidance. Globo Gym’s seeks to make you look good for the opposite sex, with little to no guidance. Let’s teach the children about being green; let’s do some curls. Let everyone graduate, no child left behind; Let’s go do some bench press, grunt it out. There is no actual substance in either. Sure if you work hard you will look real good, do fine finding a job and the ladies, but you will be at the mercy of others, because you don’t have a good core.

As you grow in crossfit you start adding meat to your workout, you learn to put knowledge from one work out to another. You learn how to apply methods of rowing to sumo deadlift high pull. In the same manner in Classical Education after the child has mastered the basics and has moved into what is now called “middle school” they start logically putting subject matter together and using the basics they know and applying it “logically” to what they are learning. Meanwhile Modern Education is still doing bicep curls.

Finally as you get good at Crossfit in one area you start helping the new people out. You may not be the best at each workout, but you have been there before and you can “model” the workout for others and show them the basics and correct movements. Guess what the Rhetoric stage (high school) is of Classical Education? It is explaining to others what you learned in the Knowledge and Logic stages and Modeling that to younger children. Meanwhile Modern Education is still doing bicep curls.

Another important similarity is that you work at your own pace. If you excel at box jumps, but need help with over head squats there are systems in place for you to move at your own pace and over practice what you need help with. Just because 25 16 year olds are in the same class they aren’t going to be at the same place and trying to treat them like they are is only going to give us the education system we have, which no one is defending according to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

So like a Classical Education will teach you how to excel at anything, I can only come to the conclusion that Crossfit will help you excel at any sport or activity. We learn to glorify God, all truth is from God and to learn it is to glorify him even if you don’t use it for some utilitarian purpose. Doing Crossfit for the sake of being in shape and living a better life is just as acceptable – utility shouldn’t be the end. Our goal should be everything pure, wise and beautiful for the sake of being pure, wise and beautiful.

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