Introspection and Perspective

ùIt’s been 10 years since I blogged here,  and almost 5 years since I retired. Hard to believe…

I have always loved stories and storytelling. I was born in West Virginia and lived there until I was seven. Some of my best memories are of my mother reading stories to us. (The “us” is me and my three brothers.) I learned to read before I entered 1st grade at 5 years old- that young entry was allowed in WV.

Later on in life I spent time going to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee the first weekend in October. It was amazing to spend an entire weekend moving from festival tent to another festival tent listening to all kinds of stories. I loved it.

Story time in my classroom was one of the best times of the day, I thought- I had many favorite books and couldn’t wait to share my love of books with my kids.

Fast forward to the present, being a retired teacher with two homes which are 2 hours apart. The drive between them often a time for introspection for me. Recently I bought a new car and received a SiriusXM trial on it. My thinking is often accompanied by music from the channels I have chosen on that platform.

I like country music and one reason I do is that many of the songs tell a story. Today I heard Kenny Rogers sing “The Greatest” for the first time. The writer of the lyrics was Don Schlitz. 

Here are the lyrics:

Little Boy, in a baseball hat
Stands in the field with his ball and bat
Says “I am the greatest player of them all”
Puts his bat on his shoulder and he tosses up his ball.
And the ball goes up and the ball comes down.
Swings his bat all the way around.
The world’s so still you can hear the sound.
The baseball falls to the ground.
Now the little boy doesn’t say a word-
Picks up his ball, he is undeterred.
Says “I am the greatest there has ever been.”
And he grits his teeth and he tries it again.
And the ball goes up and the ball comes down.
Swings his bat all the way around.
The world’s so still you can hear the sound-
The baseball falls to the ground.
He makes no excuses, He shows no fears.
He just closes his eyes and listens to the cheers.
Little boy, in a baseball hat
Picks up his ball, stares at his bat
Says “I am the greatest. The game is on the line.”
And he gives his all one last time.
And the ball goes up like the moon so bright-
Swings his bat with all his might.
And the world’s so still, as still can be
And the baseball falls, and that’s strike three.

So, I am guessing you’re imagining, as I did, his disappointment- or maybe you’re thinking about the crowd cheering- for what? Or maybe you’re thinking something else, but KR’s use of the words “strike three” imply a failure—to me, at least. Remember, the game was on the line. 

BUT—and this is BIG—as Paul Harvey says, here’s the REST of the story (the ending lyrics of the song):
Now it’s supper time and his mama calls
Little boy starts home with his bat and ball
Says “I am the greatest-that is a fact.
But even didn’t know. . .
I could pitch like that.”
He says “I am the greatest-that is understood.
But even didn’t know. . .
I could pitch that good.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could teach our students to change their perspective when they fail and look at what they CAN do, and not what they can’t?  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could conference with students about an assignment by helping students know what they did right instead of marking all the wrong? Wouldn’t it be amazing if ALL parents could talk with their children about how to look for successes instead of failure? We, as teachers, share that responsibility with the parents of our kids- to help kids see their work from a perspective of success, new learnings and goals to become even better.
If I still had a classroom of kids, I’d use this song to start a discussion about perspective and goals. 

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