Nov 17, 2011 Herm Card Uncategorized
When I started this column some months back, I was determined to promote the positive side of education, to make people aware of what I knew to be true – that the field is full of dedicated, talented people who are doing their best against difficult odds to educate our children. But for a while, I found myself railing against the negative – pointing out how bureaucracy was overwhelming those who struggle day to day to provide the education we all expect.
Rather than pointing out their successes, I was pointing out the failures of those who make and administer the rules. I was becoming Scrooge.
I knew I had to get back on track and struggled to find something to turn me around. While editing some photographs, I found it.
This is a photo of the moments immediately following the end of a 3-2 “sudden victory” overtime in the girls field hockey quarterfinal game between Camden of Section III and Pittsford Sutherland of Section V.
It is obvious that Camden, in white, has won. The players scream with joy in the delicious moment of victory. They have earned the right to continue – they will move on to the New York State semifinals. They have learned the lesson that teamwork, dedication, responsibility, fitness, practice and perseverance pay off. But, if Camden has won then Pittsford has not. Their own teamwork, dedication, responsibility, fitness, practice and perseverance has only served to get them maddeningly close to victory.
We media types tend to see only the scores that define outcomes and the statistics that define individual performance. We see things in black and white, much like the medium in which our words are delivered. So it is also with public education.
We often tend to see failures rather than success. Check the headlines over a period of time and you will see way too many that point out that one team has lost rather than that the other team has won. The lesson – a bad one – tends to be that to not win is to fail.
But it’s not that simple. The player in black on the right side of the photograph proves it. In the anguish of the moment, the moment of painful defeat in a game that her team might have won, her first instinct was not to suffer her own disappointment, but to immediately console her friend and teammate past whom the last shot of the game had passed.
Their game was over – their season was over – but that was not important at this moment. What was important was one player’s concern for her teammate – something perhaps instilled in her by her parents, her coaches, her teachers – something already there that had been brought to the surface by their efforts at just the right moment.
This is what education – mental, spiritual, physical – does. It prepares young people to do the right thing at the right time regardless of the setting.
And this lesson, presented so clearly, was the reminder I needed. It was the reminder that education is itself a team effort – it is the combined talents of students and parents and teachers and staff and administrators on all levels and, ultimately, it is their teamwork, dedication, responsibility, fitness, practice and perseverance that make us all winners, regardless of the score.