Lessons from the Phillies should show up in the classroom

Posted on 06.22.2012


I’d like my students to learn from die hard Phillies fans.

The Phillies are one of the most losing sports teams in all of sports history; several years ago they were the first team to ever reach the 10,000 loss category, they went 10 years with a losing record and they always seem to be losing; until recently that is.  I grew up loving a losing team; and they seemed to lose in all manner: from crushing, horrible, destined to lose seasons to massive breakdowns at the end (93′ world series that ended with a walk-off in the 9th).

It’s a labor of love to be a Phillies fan; and also alot of fun!  Especially the past several years.

But here is the interesting part: most of my fond memories come from a time of crushing losses and ruined expectations.  Even this season I am loving this team: a team in shambles, with superstars not performing or injured, in a losing season and hope dwindling.   Despite all of these obstacles I STILL have the expectation that they will win the World Series.  Anything less in unacceptable.

And I will watch, and hope and do my part as a fan to get us there.  I will love this team, love the season and obsess over the players, their injuries and what they say to the media.  I will analyze possible trades and contracts, I will listen on the radio, watch on the TV and read news articles about them.  I love this team, I love struggling and experiencing the ups and downs of this team.  I always want them to have a winning season, but I know that’s not realistic.

What I expect is very high and difficult however what I love about them has nothing to do with what the team acheives.

These days a new generation of Phillies fan is born into a world of a winning team and city and it feels strange.  Many of my students do not fully appreciate the toil and angst of a Phillies fan.  I have been disheartened to see less Phillies gear being worn during this losing season.  Conversations about this team have slowed among my students.  When the team stops meeting the expectations they simply stop mattering.

This is wrong.  It’s not just about meeting the expectations but how the expectations are bing met!

There can still be talk about the trade deadline, about the roster for tomorrow’s night, about the injuries and about the crushing sense of anger and loss.  But there is nothing!

As teachers and students it’s all well and good to have high expectations of ourselves and others.  However we cannot let to lesson of a Phillies fan be lost on us.  My classes have high expectations, but it’s important to not let those expectations limit our love for what we are doing.  Often times students (and adults of course!) lose heart about the end result – as a project deadline or test comes closer we sometimes freeze up or lose interest.

I want my students to learn like true Phillies fans: loving the ride, not just what happens at the end of the season. As this school year ends I hope we all leave school not thinking about how it ended or the final grade on our report cards (teachers get report cards as well but that’s another blog entry) but about the season as a whole.  Did we make the right adjustments over the year? Did we play our best? What needs to get fixed and what doesn’t?

Ultimately, our summer is our off-season and I hope as life-long learners we stay passionate, just like those Phillies fans.

Posted in: Pedagogy