Longer than a tweet

thoughts on soccer and teaching

Just after the United States was eliminated by Belgium in the World Cup, journalist Brian Phillips tweeted this to his followers, but especially to those who were new to the game:

I favorited the tweet, not only because it so powerfully describes being a fan of soccer (or of sports in general, yes, but soccer is crueler than other sports) but also because you can replace "soccer" with "teaching" and it still holds true. So to paraphrase Mr. Phillips:

This is what teaching is like. It kills you, and you die, and sometimes it's beautiful, and then you do it again the next day.

Like soccer, teaching is more often than not an exercise in frustration. I am always bamused ("bamused" is a combination of "bitter" and "amused," the "hangry" of the mind) when people watching soccer say "Why don't they score more?" Because it's much more difficult than it looks, and even though these men/women are good at it, they still struggle. Because the opponents, the weather, the pitch conditions, and physics conspire against them. Because all your good can come undone in a moment and the ball is now in the back of your net. And you die.

Sometimes the weight of your pass is improbably perfect, and the object in motion and the people in motion arrive at the destination at precisely the same time, and everyone rises in anticipation of that elusive goal. And it's beautiful.

And so it is for teaching. Sometimes you leave school feeling as though you have won the World Cup, having scored a Mario Götze-like goal in the dying embers of extra time. And it's beautiful. Shakira is nowhere to be seen, but it's still beautiful. Other times you leave school feeling like you blasted your penalty kick into the fifth row, having let down an entire nation. And it kills you, and you die. 

But either way, you do it again the next day.

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