Procrustes’ Bed of Education


When I first went into education, I became a reading supervisor, and then the title was changed to curriculum supervisor to cover all subjects. So, I brushed up on all subjects and loved math most of all.

I taught summer school and tutored kids in math. I taught them how to add, subtract, multiply and divide in different ways. The kids thought that it was great. They picked different methods but got the right answers. I had the teachers take the same approach.

A few years later, I met with all the junior high chair people, and the math person complained about what we had done.

Division three ways? Unheard of … go back to one.

I replied, “Omnes via Roman ducunt.” As long as they get the right answer, what is the problem?

When teachers in a given school are all forced to teach the same way, this is called the Procrustes’ Bed of Education. This is not considered a good thing. One size fits all? Really?

I feel the same way about training soccer players and coaches. Is there really only one way? That seems a little tight considering the variety of players and coaches, and experience and physical stature of the players.

I have heard that a national association wants to do just that. Really? That is a step backward in teaching and training.

The big thing missing in this equation of one-size-fits-all is creativity. Ah, that is the word. I cannot tell you how much I stressed this concept with my teachers. Creativity. I even wrote a notebook about this. (It must have been good; somebody stole it from me.)

I called my favorite coach in Holland and asked him about our World Cup soccer team. He praised us for organizational skills but said that we lacked creativity. Ah, there it is again.

Can you teach creativity from Procrustes’ Bed? I doubt it.

But, I know that the CYSA Instructional Staff has been out of Procrustes Bed since 1985 and can actually “guarantee” that patient, consistent, sequential use of their CYSA “9-Step Practice Routine” will develop creative players. Attend one of their CYSA Coaching School courses scheduled near you and they will teach you how.

Alan Maher,

  • Author ‘Complete Soccer Handbook’ and ‘Attacking Soccer With Neutral Player’
  • Teaching Aids Committee Chairman of the (*NSCAA)
    *National Soccer Coaches Association of America
  • Editorial Staff Member on NSCAA ‘Soccer Journal’ magazine. Etc. etc. etc.