// you’re reading...

Beating the Odds

The Olympic Flame

Today Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News writes about the American team’s high hopes in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver: “While you were dozing these past four years, your fellow Americans somehow became proficient at biathlon, ice dancing, snowboarding, luge, Nordic combined, women’s bobsled and a lot of events that normally make you roll your eyes and dream about Opening Day.”

Notice the word “somehow.” Somehow? Did their proficiency just somehow happen? Hardly.

Whether in luge or ice dancing or anything, skill comes from discomfort. No one improves at anything by practicing things they have already mastered. In deliberate practice, the work must come from just outside the area of competence. And there must be sufficient passion to keep you moving through the setbacks and frustrations.

Anyone you see on tonight’s Opening Ceremonies has put in hours and hours of being uncomfortable, of dealing with frustration and the pain of not quite getting it.

This brings us right back to the posts of the last couple of days. One of them explained “How to to raise a passionate child,” and yesterday’s wondered about the role of homework.

All these questions are related, because the ideal homework would both challenge and inspire. It would somehow — there’s that word again — make the student more curious, more eager to try learn more. How often does that happen? How often do you hear a student say, “That was fun. Can we have more homework tonight?”

Lauren, an athlete whom I once coached and with whom I later have coached, is now a teacher. She answered the question about homework this way: “to reinforce the day’s lesson and to gauge the child’s level of understanding when doing the work independently.”

Sounds reasonable enough. But where’s the inspiration? The spark that can become a flame?

Tonight there will be more than an Olympic flame. There will be evidence of a flame that was ignited and began to grow, many years ago.


No comments for “The Olympic Flame”

Post a comment