edu180atl: kevin coale 8.29.11
A few days ago I saw the benefits of peer pressure. Too often I dismiss it for its negative side effects. Yet, peer pressure can be a really effective way to make something good happen.
In a scrimmage period of practice, we had a smaller, weaker seventh grader going against a much bigger, stronger, and more aggressive eighth grader. The seventh grader lost nearly every play. After scrimmaging for nearly twenty minutes, the coaches brought the two teams together.
The team that the seventh grader was on had lost. As the team assembled around the coaches, it was easy to hear that the seventh grader had become, according to a majority of his teammates, the reason they had lost. Before the coaches had a chance to counter, another eighth grader stepped in and advocated for the seventh grader. What happened next was both surprising and inspiring. It was surprising to see how quickly the mentality of a group can be swayed, and it was inspiring to see that this could happen because one person had the courage to say to the group that they had gotten it wrong.
Since then, the seventh grader has played with more confidence and has made fewer mistakes. That incident in practice still serves as a clear reminder that peer pressure is a powerful force in all its forms, and it shouldn’t be underestimated. If peer pressure can be mobilized for good, the benefits are remarkable.
About the Author: Kevin Coale teaches middle school history at Pace Academy. He is easily drawn off topic by questions about the Korean Peninsula.