Tag Archives: passion

Watching Professionals Have Fun

I have enjoyed watching two sports throughout my life: tennis and figure skating. The end of January was a bonanza month with the Australian Open and the US National Figure Skating Championships. Thanks to the wonder of the contemporary world, I was able to watch a lot of both of them despite not having cable.

As always, I was inspired by their skills, strength and determination. And, when it was all over, I enjoyed watching them have some fun, too. The tennis fun happened at a Roger Federer Foundation fundraiser in South Africa where he played Rafael Nadal in an exhibition match. While they were clearly competing, they were smiling as they did so and even making jokes and a little trash talk. Clearly having fun playing the game to which they have devoted their whole lives:

For the ice skaters, the fun comes after the competition in the skating spectacular where they can dial down the pressure (no required elements, no worries about under rotations), put on some cool costumes and have fun with no thought to competition at all. Certainly, the best example of this was the ice dancing pair of Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker who skated to Swan Lake:

I wonder sometimes how top competitors keep up the motivation and commitment, and these moments of fun give us a clue: they really love their sport. We see a passion, sheer joy, that goes beyond any superficial desire to win.

Poetry All Around Us

I continue to pursue getting more poetry in my life.

This week, an email from James Madison University highlighted the Furious Flower Poetry Center, introducing me to the nation’s first academic center devoted to African American poetry.  The center is dedicated to Gwendolyn Brooks and the name comes from  one of her poems.  During this year’s National Poetry Month, they will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of Brooks’ birth with special events and the awarding of the Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize.

But, even if you can’t get to campus in Harrisonburg, they have extensive online resources from archived live events, a database of African American poets and an online journal called The Fight & the Fiddle.

One of my favorite poems in middle school was Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note by then LeRoi Jones. It was in a small paperback anthology of African American poetry that I probably got through the Scholastic book club.

Jones is now poet Amari Baraka and he did a reading as part of the Furious Flower 1994 conference. He shows the power of performance for making poems come alive. Sound, words, meaning flow together and force a new perspective on the listener. And listening to poetry with the words in front of you is a very different experience as you must immerse yourself in the performance. You can’t multitask. Take 20 minutes and add poetry to your day:



Quick Reactions to #Satchat

All of these could be longer posts but I need to go outside and battle the weeds some more, so for now, you get a punch list of things I am thinking about after being part of the #satchat Twitter chat:

1. I bristle whenever I hear someone say EVERY and ALWAYS whether it’s about testing or rearranging the room or, even, coding.

2. I believe you can be passionate about your work but also have other interests. Teachers who do not participate in tweet chats are not bad teachers. We shouldn’t make teachers feel guilty about not being passionate enough to devote every waking hour to their work.

3. If we–leaders, coaches, teachers–truly believe that collaboration ala Twitter or other media is an important part of professional learning and growth, we must find time for it in the work day. If there isn’t enough time, then we either get rid of something else OR we lengthen the work day OR we find some way to give credit for it like we do when you take a graduate class.

Appreciating Passion

Thanks to Neil Young, music lovers will soon have a new way to listen to digital music. According to Rolling Stone:

Beginning next year, Pono will release a line of portable players, a music-download service and digital-to-analog conversion technology intended to present songs as they first sound during studio recording sessions.

Young writes about his passion for how music should sound in this excerpt from his new autobiography Waging Heavy Peace.

Making good music is not the only area of interest for Young. He is involved in an alternative fuel project called Lincvolt in which his 1959 Lincoln was converted to an electric car.

When he learned that Lionel Trains was struggling financially, he helped with support.  But he has also gone beyond just being a backer: he has developed a new sound system and, in order to share his love of trains with his severely disabled son, created special devices that allow him to operate the trains.

Each year, he sponsors a special benefit concert for The Bridge School, founded by his wife to serve children with severe speech and physical impairments.

Young’s passion is inspirational. He is not content to just make music; he wants to make the world a better place.