I give thanks…for inspiration
For many years, my friend Coco and I went out and cheered at the marathon. Then Lisa and I went with Coco. Now my kids know that they’re going to spend one Sunday morning in November standing first at 34th and Powelton and then at the edge of Kelly Drive until their hands crack, listening to Mom and Dad encourage anyone who runs close enough for us to see their name on their bib.
It’s hard to tell who’s more inspiring — the runners who glide by first, barely sweating, barely breathing, or the people who reach the bottom of the hill by the Art Museum after four and a half hours of hard work. Great runners are like the great shooters of the NBA — their motion is all alike. And like a bad basketball league, the runners coming in later each have their own style.
Both inspire. Both make you want to work harder. Both make you want to at least think about running the next day.
We give our students books. Lots of books. Some we read with them, some we ask them to read alone. They show a glimmer of interest in a topic and we bury them in books about it. We have some baseball players this year and I gave one of them one of my favorite books. There’s a line, midway through where the veteran catcher gives a rookie who is about to quit some advice:
The Kid had followed baseball all his life, loved the game, played it, yet for the first time he realized that more important than fielding or hitting, more important than anything, was that funny inner quality called courage. “Now take those pitchers out there chasing flies.” The catcher tipped back his chair. “Take those catchers. I can always tell which ones are real ball players just by the way they run. That’s why I got confidence in you. I watched you. You go all out every time, whether you nab that old apple or not…”
Yesterday we had our first quarter exhibitions. Our students stood up and talked about their work, their work habits, and their progress on their goals. We’ve tried to create a school where kids can try real things, which takes courage. As a result, we’ve created a place where kids fail and can stand up and talk about it. And I felt the same thing I feel watching the marathon, the same thing I feel reading John Tunis again…
School ought to be a place where you see all the kids, the 5 minute milers and the 12 minute milers, and feel their grace, their efforts, their wisdom, their humor, their sadnesses, their fears, and their great triumphs. All kids have the courage Tunis is describing, somewhere, and a good school pulls it out, makes it necessary, builds the place around it, and helps them stay strong and moving in the right direction.
It’s been a great first quarter.