Exclamation Points and ALL-CAPS

The Giants got CRUSHED 7-2!  The Royals’ bullpen is UNHITTABLE!  The Giants’ pitchers are too old!  The Giants’ bullpen is too susceptible to IMPLOSION!  The Royals’ stadium is too LOUD!  The Royals are too fast, too quick, too relentless!!!

Perhaps all or some of these statements are true. If last night’s Game 2 of the World Series provide our only data points, the Giants look vulnerable.

Perspective tells us that it is also true that the Giants have won 9 World Series games (and lost only 2) in the last 5 years. And it is also true that they can still win the World Series without even playing another road game.

There are so many elements of high school years that ring with the urgency and all-caps and exclamation points of my first paragraph.

For instance, we mailed home report cards today.

True, half of the semester is in the books, and if grades look problematic this far into the semester, it might be too late to fix them completely. Also true: half of the semester is still in front of us, there will be plenty of opportunities to right the ship, and quarter grades are not the “grade of record” anyway. Also true: your son attends a school where the faculty values ongoing formative assessment as much as, and sometimes more so than, the summative element of major tests and assignments.

The hard part, when there can be so much energy about any number of issues with our students, is to avoid fanning the flames. Studies have shown that activated adolescents can soothe themselves and feel validated by transferring such agitation onto adults. In other words, they feel better when they see us just as upset as they feel.

It is not the right kind of soothing, though…like offering a donut if they say they are hungry.  There might be very short term satisfaction, but it won’t be filling.

Aren’t we supposed to be empathic, though?

Of course. At the same time, we will be more helpful in the long run when we consider…the long run. Parenting, teaching and advising styles that emphasize approaches to problems rather than providing answers (the equivalent of teaching to fish instead of giving a fish) will require more patience and more faith, but will be of greater value.

As our namesake, Janet Erskine Stuart said:

“There are two ways of preparing children for the government of themselves in after-life [of our schools], one direct and the other indirect. The first has its merits, it is quick in results, often very successful. It fosters piety, inculcates some clear principles, dictates the main lines of action, and by rule and maxim, fits the being into its place in the world, and gives it means to do its duty creditably. The indirect method is longer and less clearly defined. It aims at giving a guiding light within, and power to climb a difficult path, and pick a way through unknown country by that light. This must be waited for, and slowly developed, but in the end it is of greater worth. The training of the Sacred Heart aims at this.”  

Plans tend to be more helpful than freak-outs.

As for the Giants, and other areas in which I can exercise zero control, I turn to Abe Lincoln: “it is better to trust and be disappointed occasionally than to distrust and be miserable all the time”.

Giants in 6!



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