As a self-proclaimed American football 'honey badger,' I've always felt that it's my duty to ignore Sundays' television screens and screams from impassioned fans. My intentional ignorance is not part of greater anti-sports or anti-competition agendas but a genuine lack of interest in losing hours of my life on the couch watching other adults exercise in ways that would really benefit me to try. The Super Bowl, however, is the day I become a stalwart supporter of the NFL's cause. I live for the holiday season every year as I count down the days until the next Thanksgiving starting January 2, to quell my holiday desolation- but the Super Bowl and all of the traditions upheld on this February American Sunday gives me one last opportunity to relish in all the family feels.
This year's Super Bowl was especially noteworthy as the hometown team competed for the national title against one of the most winningest teams in NFL history. The Philadelphia Eagles' season in itself was like something straight out of an Aesop fable and even earned the team the nickname, "The Underdogs." Over the past six months the media highlighted the greatest challenges working against each player on the team, the team as a whole, and the entire organization. From injuries sustained by starting players to an "inexperienced" coaching staff, it didn't seem likely, from the perspectives of pundits and statisticians, that the Philadelphia Eagles could make it to the game-of-games; but, they did. And, not only did they make it to the Bowl, but their competition was the same team with the same star player that had beat them in their last Super Bowl appearance over a decade ago. Talk about a screenwriter's dream...
So, here we are. The outcome is exactly what one should expect from a fairy tale story; but the difference between the classics and the triumph in this narrative is the shared tenacity. Some of the best motivating speeches in history have been spoken by athletes in the last seven days and stories continue to surface about fans, team employees, and cheerleaders who never gave up on their lifelong dreams to partake in what happened on Sunday, February 4, 2018.
Since Sunday I've been involved in various conversations with fellow Philadelphia educators about the Super Bowl and the positive results, as well as the surprising and unfortunate results for the New England Patriots. The interdisciplinary and universal themes of determination, persistence and steadfast beliefs are central to the narratives about this topic. But, I wonder, are we being too generic and airy-fairy in our approach to teaching the underlying life skills elucidated by this event? As adults, teachers, and learners, what life skills are we synthesizing and illuminating for our students and neighbors, and for ourselves?
At the conclusion of the city's celebratory parade Philadelphia Eagles' Center Jason Kelce delivered what is being called the "most epic" speech attributing the team's win to the passion and drive of his coaches and teammates. Earlier this week millions watched as the Eagles' Quarterback Nick Foles shared his postgame thoughts on the significance of failure as a tenet of life. While these orations highlight necessary principles for winning, they don't dive deeply enough into the nuances of each team members' and staff members' daily grind. The passion, drive, and failure noted by Mr. Kelce and Mr. Foles are, in my opinion, glorious results of the quotidian minutia of what we deem as "work."
So, again, I implore you to consider how we connect our discipline, and perhaps your own successes and failures, and the lessons consequentially taught by the reigning champions with our students' thoughts and learning, and their hopes and dreams.
Jaimie Piotrowicz is a 5th grade, public school Teacher in North Philadelphia. She is conducting research on the connection between teacher happiness indicators and subsequent student success.