Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Swimming in the Tennis Courts

An Open Apology: So sorry for swimming in your Tennis Court.




I was recently struck by--convicted by, if you want to know the truth--a metaphor I heard from Jon Acuff. He was describing the similarities between tennis courts and swimming pools, but he was talking about the difference between your job and your dream job. Both tennis courts and swimming pools are rectangular, similar size . . . people use both for recreation.  Lots of similarities between tennis courts and swimming pools.

But if you find that your job is a tennis court and you wish it were a swimming pool . . . don't practice your swimming out on the tennis court.  You know, try out your butterfly stroke; practice a few dives here and there. If you do, two things will result. One is that you'll hurt yourself. The other is that you will become angry at the tennis court, for not being a swimming pool.

The truth is that in the last two years of my time teaching high school in a brick and mortar shop, my agitation was growing. I confided in my principal "I think we--the system--are doing bad things to kids." He tried to help, but my agitation continued. One would think that it would stop after I removed myself from the system, right? But just two weeks ago I was at a conference and met a teacher who was telling me that he has 38 seventh graders in his science classes. I could literally feel my blood pressure rising, and I heard familiar agitation in my voice. I've been out of the system for months, but it was so easy to get pulled back in by my emotions.

Then I heard Acuff's analogy, and it turned out to be a key to unlock . . . forgiveness.

The brick and mortar high school was a tennis court. I'm a virtual-school and hybrid-school guy. It is okay for tennis courts to be tennis courts, and I don't need to convert them into swimming pools.

So. I'm sorry if I was agitated at you in a conversation about schooling. I might be past that phase now. School can be what it is, and I'm going to go make swimming pools a better place.

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