What can educators learn from the Brazillian shock?

Less than 24 hours after witnessing one of the biggest shocks in football history, pundits, fans and the everyday person are dissecting what went so wrong for Brazil. While I do not profess to be the foremost expert on football, it was very clear last night that there were too problems for Brazil that together brought about their downfall from aspiring champions to being shown the exit door from the World Cup after less than 30 minutes of play.

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight, this result was not an upset. Any person who knows their football would have said that Germany had a very good chance of beating Brazil. On paper, they had the stronger team and were playing reasonably well. Brazil, in contrast, never really looked strong when playing good opposition such as Croatia, Chile and Colombia, yet they were riding a wave of home support willing them on to reach the final and more glory.

The shock, however, was the magnitude of the defeat and the way in which the team capitulated. To win a World Cup, a country needs more than 11 players and the ability to win a game when its star player(s) is not performing or unavailable for selection. Great teams find a way to win, whatever the circumstances. So, what went so wrong.

Simply put, the goal that Brazil set themselves was not planned for thoroughly enough, mostly in that their expectation of themselves (including that from the fans) was too high in the first place, and they lacked the resilience when put to the test. It appeared as though the players felt that they were entitled to be in the final and have a chance to win a sixth world cup. Most importantly, when Brazil went a goal down, the players did not have a plan B. It was as though they never planned or considered being a goal behind, or two goals for that matter. The way that the players looked at each other when they conceded the first two goals was one of the most amazing displays of ‘what do we do now’ that I have ever seen from professional sportspeople; they simply did not know what to do.

We can learn a lot from this as educators. Sure, we need to get students to dream, to think big, to set goals and have aspirations. At the same time, the older our students get, we need to assist them in planning how they will reach their goals, identifying what obstacles may get in the way and how they will overcome them. Likewise, as leaders we can learn that when managing change or making decisions, we may need a plan B, C or D, in order to get us to our goal, or as close to it as possible.

As a good colleague and friend once said to me about the 5P’s of making sure that you reach your goals: Prior planning prevents poor performance. Brazil certainly did not have enough prior planning last night nor the resilience to comeback once the first goal went. It, certainly,  will be interesting to see whether they will have the resolve to re-emerge in four years time as a contender for the World Cup.

Published by Richard Bruford

Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology. With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools. Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin. In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)

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