Saturday, July 11, 2015

Standing Ovation for Second Place

Like many others in America, I had a Wimbledon breakfast. I will be honest and say that I only did this for my kids. I am not much of a tennis fan and for most of this morning's match between Serena Williams and Garbine Muguruza, I was reading the paper and listening with half an ear.

As a mom of two boys, I watch a great deal of sports. As a non-sporty person, I find most of the games boring. This morning, I started paying attention only when the match was over. For me, that was when the drama started.

Garbine Muguruza played well - my kids said so and she must have to make it to the final round. But as you know, she did not "win."

Tennis is a more civilized sport than some of the others I have watched with my kids. Often in a final game of a season, a team wins and celebrates and a team loses and mourns. Today was different.

The game ended and everyone waited. A ceremony began. Garbine Muguruza was given an award for second place. Everyone stood up and clapped. Everyone. It went on for several minutes.

How many times have you come in second? Or your students? More often than not, right?

But how many times do we give a standing ovation for coming in second? Not as often as we should, I think.

The truth is, humans come in second (or third or tenth) more often than we win. We know that we learn more from losing than we do from winning. So why not celebrate the loss?

Having come in second (or fourth or twelfth) for most of my life, I can sort of imagine how Garbine Muguruza might feel. But I was impressed with the grace with which she came in second. And even more impressed with the audience at Wimbledon who recognized her effort, skill and determination today.

As educators, our takeaway is obvious. Celebrate effort. Learn from mistakes. And stand up and clap til it hurts when people do the remarkable.

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