Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Learning to Win and Lose

Well, Madeleina came home from the regionals in extemporaneous debate yesterday and boy was she pissed off. The job was to take three or four poems, weave parts of them into one piece, read it and then be able to debate about the value of the pieces, the reason for your selections and so forth. Well, she went with the Beat Poets, which was a good choice because I have some of their books around. And she came up with a great piece which she could read very well.
    So she got picked to head to what I think are the regionals--kids were coming in from a few different counties, it looked like, and if it all went well she would have moved on to State--which is apparently a big deal here in Texas, though I don't remember even having it in New York when I was a kid in the last century.
    Evidenty she did fantastically at the reading and was held over to debate her choices. She didn't fare well there and did not make State. She said that her debate judges included a school bus driver and someone else not involved in teaching, and then one debate teacher. I think that's what she said. And the three of them, while saying they loved her reading, said the Beat poets had no value, no impact, and so were a very bad choice on her part.
   She took umbrage at that.
   They were lucky that's all she took.
   "Dad, excuse me but they were out of their flipping minds. Not important? Howl by Ginsberg is not important? Kerouac is not important? Dad! They were the social voice of the day! They were the white counter part of the civil rights movement! Ginsberg declared war on those who put down gays! They demanded the right to speak their minds in public and were willing to go to jail, like Lenny Bruce, for that! Not important! God, this is the worst day of my life!"
    They were wrong and she was right, of course. The Beats were very important. But maybe not out here in bucolic Joshua, Texas. Maybe out here they're considered as valueless as hippies and the Occupy Wall Streeters and the like.
    I tried to console her with the thought that she's still going to State as a solo flutist and as part of an ensemble. Not bad.
    She wasn't buying it. "Dad, they took some kid who read Christian poetry over me! God, I hate them!"
    She's got a point. But then, this is Texas. And learning to lose with grace, even if you're cheated sometimes, is an important lesson in life. Learning to lose isn't a good lesson by itself, of course, but learning how some people will cheat you out of what is rightfully yours--and figuring out how to make that not happen next time, how to keep standing up for yourself--well, that's important. Winning is great, but losing is where the real lessons are.


Makebeliever said...

Yea i know a lot of teachers that would have cheered her on

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