You may have seen this video. You may not have. Watch it. It’s pretty awesome.
How cool is that? This guy is not only passionate about his job, but also about his family. He loves both to the point where he had to put himself on the line for the benefit of himself, his family, and his audience.
But. . .did you catch it? The moment where it all goes horribly wrong? Watch it again. Here; I’ll even link it again. Be sure to watch it all the way through.
This man puts himself out there in a very difficult way. He’s doing something that is different, potentially embarrassing, but also no doubt a lot of fun to do. And then he’s done. His work has been shown, and those of us who are not him are left to react.
And his coworkers, oh, they react.
“I’ve gotta ask — what’s wrong with you?”
Well, I’m sure that makes him feel good about what he did. But that’s the sports guy. He’s supposed to represent some macho, I’m-not-going-to-sing-and-make-fun-of-those-who-display-passion-for-not-sports stereotypical guy, right? Surely the anchors will do better, right?
“Aunt Helen would look right you in the eye and say ‘there’s something wrong with that boy.'”
Laughter. Laughter. Laughter.
Even the weatherman gets in on the act, saying that his son looked at him with shame upon hearing the audio track. Because what position is he in to defend himself, when his coworkers are poking fun of him on the air? Of course he’s going to join in. It’s what we humans do if we put ourselves out there and are mocked. We join in on the mocking, so we are making fun of that thing we did, and detaching ourselves from it. “Look at that silly thing I did — good thing I’m not really like that, right guys?”
Did you catch what was lost in all this? You may not have heard it — I completely missed it the first time I watched.
Two simple words of praise, swept aside by the tornado of laughing mockery. It’s a lot easier to laugh and ask what is wrong with someone when they do something awesome and different than it is to offer your support. It’s even harder when the support is laughed under the table.
So why do I blog about this here, on the blog of a teacher? Surely the connection isn’t hard for you to make.
How often do we see this take place in our schools? How often does one student put himself or herself out there in a way that makes them feel good, but is clearly different from the norm? A student decides to sing his or her presentation. The football star is also in the marching band. The actor decides to try a spring sport instead of the spring musical. A typically low-achieving student does well on a test. Someone reads a book — and likes it.
What do we hear?
“Well that was strange.” “Look at the nerd!” “You did well — must have been a fluke!” A lot of laughter.
What do these things say?
“Don’t be different.” “Don’t try new things.” “Don’t ever do that again.” “You’re stupid.”
What are we, as teachers, doing to stop this in our hallways, in our classrooms, and perhaps from our own mouths? I don’t have the answer, but I do know we sure as hell can’t allow it to happen, even once, even in a small amount.
Because, let’s face it: the world needs more singing weathermen.