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Jose Mourinho and Progressive Education

John Simkin

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I have always been fascinated by the teaching strategies of top football coaches. It is clear that a few talented coaches have this ability to dramatically improve the performances of a large proportion of their players. A good example of this is Jose Mourinho of Chelsea.

There was a good article about this by David Walsh in yesterday’s Sunday Times. Walsh points out that 22.6% of all their goals this season has come from corners and free kicks. This is much higher percentage than their main rivals: Manchester United (8.5) and Arsenal (3.0). Walsh therefore claims that the Chelsea players have been so well trained that they know exactly how to behave at corners and free kicks. However, Mourinho denies this. In fact, he puts forward a very progressive educational philosophy on how this works:

“The tactical work I encourage isn’t about there being a teacher on the one hand and a pupil on the other. I call it the ‘guided discovery’; that is they discovery according to my clues. I construct practice situations that will set them on a certain path. They begin to sense this, so we talk, discuss things and come to a conclusion. For this to work, the players must have their own opinions.”

Sounds very much like the educational philosophy promoted by Jerome Bruner in the early 1960s.

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