Goal #1 Completed! Success is in the Conversation
Goal #1 Completed! Success is in the Conversation

Goal #1 Completed! Success is in the Conversation

Since StudentsFIRST launched last week we have met our first goal – to start a conversation about how much adults should be involved in building the robots. There have been lively discussions on many platforms. Maybe it’s just because of our stated purpose, but for every 80 messages I get supporting StudentsFIRST, I only get one message disagreeing with our goal.

We also heard some new comments this week about why adult involvement and behavior should be more controlled. Here are my two favorite new arguments:
#1 Most teams are supported by taxpayer dollars through their school. While FIRST may think it’s fine for adults to do most of the work on some teams, the taxpayers certainly don’t. Education dollars should be spent on experience and education for the students.

#2 FIRST’s rules are out of alignment with their values. The mission of FIRST is for students to learn, but teams where the adults suppress student involvement are not living up to that value. This observation pinpoints the dissonance we all feel between what FIRST says it is, and what it really is. Between the warm fuzzy feelings we get cheering and dancing at a competition, and the yucky lump in your gut when you see adults doing most of the work in the pit next to you. We have felt this dissonance for a very long time, and it’s time to address it.

If FIRST wants to maintain their rules that adults can be on the drive team and there are no limits to adult involvement, then what recourse is available to students when they want to do more and adults won’t let them do it, or even talk about it?

Most mentors and coaches are amazing people who are generous with their time. They truly put students FIRST. To reign in the few bad apples, is it possible we need more explicitly stated rules about toxic coaches and mentors who steamroll students for their own benefit? Is the Youth Protection Program supposed to protect students from this as well, or not?
What do you think? We welcome your comments!