A Primer On Effort, Direction And Goals For The Uninitiated

A Primer On Effort, Direction And Goals For The Uninitiated

While volunteering and teaching kids from middle school, the team I was a part of and I came up with the simplest lesson for Effort, Direction and Goals. It’s all about a pile of paper balls.

No time? Listen to it instead

Back in 2018, I was volunteering with Kaarmic Education Services’ Young Leaders Initiative in the village of Nallavagu in Telangana. We were assigned kids from sixth to eight standards in a government school and the areas we covered were English and Personality Development.

We faced a huge challenge, though. The curriculum provided to us for the school kids was far beyond their level of comprehension. This meant that the concepts and the lesson plans we had were out in the water. So, we had to improvise.

Each evening, we’d discuss and build our own, more straightforward lesson plans. There was one lesson we came up with that was so simple that it has stuck with me since. It’s the lesson about Effort, Direction and Goals.

The Activity

Each of us had a classroom to manage. So, the idea was simple. Each student was given three sheets of paper. We asked them to crumple them into paper balls. We started by explaining that our plan is to have a lot of paper balls collected in one place. Then, we decided to break the concept of effort and direction down into three stages.

Stage 1: Effort

The first activity for the students was to pick one ball from their pile of three and just throw it wherever they wanted to throw it. The students were ecstatic because this was fun, right? It was a game. Just throw balls. It soon became difficult to manage them, but that’s not relevant. Kids are kids.

Stage 2: Direction

Then, came the second stage. We asked all students to take the second ball and throw it towards the board. Again, the kids were fascinated because this didn’t seem like a class to them. Once they were done throwing and just jumping in joy, we moved to Stage 3.

Stage 3: Goals

In the final stage, each of us in our respective classrooms drew a circle on the board. Then, we asked each student to throw the ball into the target or at least, try. The students aimed well and did as asked. Once this was done and the dust settled down, we decided to ask the students if they could see what was happening.

What’s Happening Here

In the first stage, they threw the balls in whichever direction the wanted to, and while the balls flew threw the air, we couldn’t actually see any pile.

In the second stage, most balls landed towards a particular side of the room, and that was all about fixing the direction.

With the final stage, we saw there was a massive pile of paper balls right below the board. You could clearly make that pile out.

That’s the idea of Efforts, Direction and Goals.

Bonus Stage: Cooperation

It was in hindsight that I realised that there was a hidden lesson here, and that is about cooperation. The reason we could see a significant change in where the paper balls ended up in the room was that it was about forty to fifty students collaborating and cooperating to aim for the target on the board. Cooperation with clear goals is the key to better results.

The Nudge

While teaching kids in 2018, we concluded that Effort, Direction and Goals are like taking balls of paper and throwing them, wanting to collect a large pile of them. First, you throw it wherever you want. Second, you throw them towards the board in the room. Third, you throw them on a target drawn in the board. Naturally, in the third attempt, most balls end up near the board, into a large pile. As a bonus, the idea also talks about collaboration – the more students in the class, the more paper balls end up near the goal.

Original Featured Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash.

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