Monday, July 12, 2010

Play Ball!

This may totally wreck any credibility I may possess, but I am a Cubs fan; have been all of my life.

Yet, in spite of all of the losing, I still love the Cubs and baseball in general.  AND, I think we can learn some from the game.  I was working with a board on Saturday and we were talking about success.  As sometimes happens, a baseball metaphor pops into my mind, so it was not surprising that this happened on Saturday.

We have weird ideas about success in our society and we don't like failure.  Yet in baseball, the REALLY GOOD hitters only get a hit about 3 out of 10 tries.  Day after day, player after player, takes their at bats--162 days out of the year.I have often wondered what it must feel like to strike out for the third out with the winning run on third, 30,000 people watching. 

We celebrate those who can hit over .300, and fail to recognize the effort, the patience, the perseverance it takes to take your at bats day after day. For me, this is one of the things that makes baseball such a great game.

How can we in public education, celebrate the .300 hitters, and persevere in spite of the pressure and criticism that often comes from parents and the public? 

If we only succeed with three out of ten children we would not count that as success, so the "data" part of the metaphor is not where the lesson lies.  The lesson lies in the ability to take an at bat, time after time, learn from your previous at bats, get better at pitch selection, your stance in the batter's box.  Don't just play the game.  Be a student of the game.  It is not the number of hits, it is the trying; the learning; the improving your swing and your eye.  These are the lessons we can learn from baseball and apply them to our work in public education.

We too have a long season.  Each day we have to come prepared to "Play ball!" 

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