Every day in the English class I coteach starts with a word of the day, and a quote of the day. I love quotes, but the quote on Thursday of last week really, really rubbed me the wrong way.
"You're never a loser until you quit trying." - Mike Ditka
Can you see why this quote is shitty? And not just for me, but for the many kids who have tried and failed things due to circumstances far out of their control?
I thought about just letting it go, and then I thought...SCREW IT and searched frantically on my phone while students copied down the word and quote from the board.
After the English teacher I work with explained the quote (it's important to always keep trying, never give up, blah blah blah), I said, "I have a COUNTERQUOTE!"
And I shared this gem, sent to me by a friend last year:
I said, "You see, there are times when trying over and over is NOT the best thing for you. Like for instance, when you are playing a sport and you are chronically injured but you keep playing even though IT IS HARMFUL FOR YOU TO CONTINUE TO DO SO."
He countered, "But I think the quote is more about motivation, like that mountain we talk about in the Wordsworth poem at the beginning of the year, that some people just want to be magically transported to the top of the mountain, but if you work hard and don't quit, you WILL get to the top! I don't think it's about playing football in a wheelchair."
And now the students were watching us like a ping pong match, because I had to keep going. I HAD TO.
"Except, sometimes you're climbing a mountain, and the conditions get really dangerous, and you are putting the rest of your life at risk by continuing stubbornly up that particular mountain, so maybe YOU JUST NEED TO FIND ANOTHER MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB."
He sort of went, "Hmmm" and then we continued on.
And when I came back for 8th period, the quote was different:
"Continuous effort -- not strength or intelligence -- is the key to unlocking our potential." - Winston Churchill
I just smiled, and it went without further discussion.
Later that night I told Bryce about it, and he said that maybe he changed it so he wouldn't have to deal with me being a pain in the ass. Which I took exception to, actually. I thought maybe he thought on it and changed it to something that didn't call people who move forward from something LOSERS.
The next day I did ask him. I said, "I noticed you changed the quote 8th period yesterday. Bryce thinks maybe you didn't want to deal with my soapbox two periods in a row, but I have another theory."
He said, "I felt SO HORRIBLE. I never thought of it that way, and clearly you have, and it really struck a chord with you and now I can see why."
Because I can't shut up, I continued on, "Oh, THANK YOU. Not just for me, but for all our kids who already know that life is not fair and don't have to wait to be infertile as adults to think on all this stuff. I think it's just SO important to let them know that sometimes you just don't get what you want, but you can readjust and find a new focus."
And he said, "Yeah. This new quote captures what I was trying to get at without the other stuff."
It was a bit of a bonding moment. He genuinely didn't think of how that quote could come across to people whose lives have taken unexpected turns despite all the trying in the world, and then he fixed it. I may have hipchecked him a bit and just said, "I so appreciate you."
I am so, so glad I spoke up.
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