News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Scholars' bowl teaches participants teamwork

One of the most important skills our children can learn — for their own success and, more broadly, advancement of our society — is teamwork. There is no middle school course labeled "teamwork," but our community can take pride in the fact that area schools teach it nonetheless.

Three middle schools in this area — Hartselle Junior High School, Cullman Middle School and Cedar Ridge Middle School — managed to make it to the scholars' bowl state championships, a fact that speaks volumes for their intelligence. Watch one of the matches, however, and you realize it speaks even more to their sense of teamwork.

Sports and, to a lesser extent, band have long been the near-exclusive laboratories for developing teamwork skills for our children.

Scholars' bowl requires an even purer form of teamwork than do band and sports. In sports, a given player knows his job is to be a wide receiver, or point guard, or goalie. There's still plenty of teamwork involved, but the competition pushes participants into specific roles. Band, likewise, fosters teamwork, but only as a subset of a defined role. A trumpet player cannot play a saxophone in the middle of a concert. A third-string flutist can't switch to a first-string melody.

Scholars' bowl appeals to a rather small number of students, but it offers those students a remarkable exercise in teamwork. Every participant has an equal right to hit the buzzer to answer a question. Some questions go to the team as a whole, requiring the team members to reach a collaborative answer.

A successful scholars' bowl team has no room for individual ego. Each participant must be able to defer to another member if that member is more confident he or she knows the answer. Anger at a team member for providing an incorrect answer prevents the errant participant from answering other questions that he does know, hurting the team.

Hartselle finished second in the state in Saturday's championship. That result tells us that they are plenty smart and that their coach, Wanda McAbee, is first rate. More importantly, though, it tells us that the members of the Hartselle team have mastered teamwork, an accomplishment that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

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