Do you have kids? Students? Family? Friends? Please read or listen to this story I heard on NPR’s Morning Edition today (then share it!). Its core: “For the most part in American culture, intellectual struggle in school children is seen as an indicator of weakness, while in Eastern cultures it is not only tolerated, it is often used to measure emotional strength.” I’ve always used words like “good work” and “way to work hard” with my children, but one scene in this story rang true even for me, in my everyday, adult life.
They described a class in Japan where the kid who simply couldn’t get a geometry problem was asked up to the board to solve it in front of all his peers. He wasn’t isolated at the back of class, sequestered with a helper. He was asked to work on it for all to see.
After he finished each attempt, the teacher asked for the class’s attention and judgment…”Nope, he doesn’t have it yet.” Near the end of class–he’d been working on it the whole time–he GOT it; he drew a perfect cube. And the teacher asked for the class to look up, and they said yeah, he got it! And they APPLAUDED him and his effort as he sat down, grinning.
And I could see it in my mind and it hit me! THAT’S what I’m doing with this journey of publishing The Oat Project. I’m working through the problem in front of the class (you), not at the back of the room, until I get it. And we’re all in it together. When you read the installments already out and subscribe, when you tell me how it made you feel or think, when you share it with others, you’re telling me that the struggle is not an indication of weakness but of strength.
And this applies to every single one of us! Struggle is strength! What struggle are you facing today? In what area do you regularly struggle? What would happen if you saw the struggle itself as proof of your strength? How would you approach and describe it differently? I’m your class; you’re my class. Let’s applaud each other!
So, if you don’t mind, I’m going to keep going. 🙂 Today, wrangling and sitting and writing and editing Installment 4, in which I’m having to dig deeply into the roots of my fears and beliefs. My goal, to finish. My method, to struggle.
Love and hugs on Labor Day. Jene’