This month I want to share a couple of things that I have come across that have made me think and I am hoping that they will make you think as well.
The first one comes from the book that many of us are reading here at Grant and it hit me right between the eyes as a parent. The book is called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and in it she shares this quote from Joseph Chilton Pearce:
“What we are teaches the child more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.”
I love that! Now, of course this is not the first time that I have heard this point made. Call it “actions speak louder than words” or “practice what you preach” or “walk the walk”, at some point we have all heard this before. This time, as a parent of a 7th grader and a 9th grader, it hit me with much more force. The author uses this point to remind and challenge parents to “mind the gap” between the values that we aspire to model and the values that we practice day in and day out for the whole world, including our kids, to see and follow. If that gap gets too wide, kids disengage and our lessons lose their effect.
I do not read this quote and feel a pressure to be the perfect parent. I do not think that such a thing exists. I am also not saying that I want my kid to be perfect, because I have met a lot of kids and none have them have been perfect either. What this quote taught me is that parenting is really the act of modeling the art of learning and becoming. It is showing our kids that we are a work in progress and we “not there yet” when it comes to being the type of person that we want to be. We do need to send the message that we care about the difference, or the “gap”, between who we are and who we want to be and that we are working on it. Parents who “are working on it” have kids “who are working on it”. And as powerful as this concept is to our roles as parents, it carries over to our jobs and our other relationships and roles that we have in life. Powerful stuff!
The second quote comes from the late great Walt Disney. Recently I had the chance to take a junior high elective field trip to the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. I was amazed at the life, creativity, and influence of this man. I loved learning about his life story from early childhood through the time of his death. Going into this experience, I knew very little about Walt Disney but I walked away with a desire to read and learn more about him. I think that his life has valuable lessons that can help me be better.
As I walked through the museum I came across a quote that has been rattling around in my brain ever since. He said, “I think that everyone should have a good hard failure when they are young.” That might have been the first time that I have ever seen the words good and failure combined in the same thought, but I think that Mr. Disney was on to something pure genius with this statement. Failure, and adversity in general, is one of those things that no one signs up for but is an essential ingredient to any success that we are trying to cook up. The failure that Walt Disney was referring to was an experience that nearly broke him but eventually led to a moment of insight. In that particular moment of insight, Mickey Mouse was born…and the rest is history.
What does this mean for us and for our kids? It teaches me a couple of things about myself and about my children and my students. It teaches me that we are resilient and stronger than we give ourselves credit for. It teaches me that there is only one way to learn that we are capable of doing and enduring hard things, and unfortunately that one way is by doing and enduring hard things. It teaches me that experiencing failure puts everything, including future success, into proper perspective. It teaches me as a parent that it is okay when my kid falls down as long as I, and others, are there to support them to get back up. When we shelter our kids from the fall, we are also sheltering them from the lessons that come when they fall. Walt Disney knew a thing or two about failure and he learned that in times of failure we all learn the value of family, true friends, and true principles. For him, and for us, failure is a prerequisite for success.
Let’s be clear. I do not wish a good hard failure on Grant students because I do think that K-8 is a little younger than Mr. Disney was referring to. At the same time, I do wish for all of us an appropriate amount of struggle along the way. For my children and students, I know that on the other side of struggle and failing are lessons that will be valuable to them long after they are gone from Grant School. Those types of lessons truly prepare students for the future and that is my job, both as a parent and as a school administrator.
Hope those made you think a little. Before I go, ‘tis the season for thankfulness and gratitude. Please know that all of us at Grant appreciate so much the big and little things that you do to build up and support your students to be their best each and every day. Thank you for joining with us in so many ways. We truly are “Better Together”.