Monday, January 1, 2018

Gym, English, and Government Revelation Instead of Revolution to Spur on the New Year

Happy New Year



Because of a dream last night, I woke up with a revelation.

Though we felt miles apart, perhaps the knowledge levels of my fellow middle school students and I wasn't actually that far apart.

In gym class, we'd play various sports, like baseball (or softball or t-ball or kickball...). The rules were never explained in class. "Just do what everyone else does." There were 3 to 5 students who magically possessed the knowledge of the rules. They wouldn't tell you what the rules were, only if you broke them.

I broke those rules ALL THE TIME. The biggest reason that I sucked at sports, at gym class, was because I kept breaking rules. (This sucking reasoning is closely followed by my poor coordination, but that's not the point.) "You're out. You can't drop the bat that way." (I still, to this day, don't know the proper way to place a bat down after hitting the ball.) "You're out because Joe was stealing second and you were on second and didn't make it to third in time." (I didn't even know what stealing a base was, but stealing is a word that means a very bad action, so I wouldn't have wanted to do it. Plus, did it ever occur to Joe that this was going to backfire? There's no way I would have known I had to run. And even if I did know, there's no way I was going to make it. Why did he think I would? Did he think that through, or was he just trying to get his own teammate "out" because it somehow made him look better? Why is that? I really don't know.)

But then there was English class. I seemed to know a lot of "rules" that hadn't been taught. I read a lot of books, and learned grammar as a result. Joe didn't read a lot of books, he was busy with Little League and such.

Is it possible that we were equal in our knowledge levels, but that he was being taught rules of a sport while I was learning the rules of language? Yet we each felt superior to the other because we knew so much about something that the other did not.

What might life have been like if we took the time to help each other? If we had both acknowledged that we excelled in different areas, and then tried to help each other? Except that's NOT how the world works. So when we had to do group work, I carried my "team." I did the lion's share so that I wouldn't fail, and they benefited with a higher grade. When we played baseball, Joe did the lion's share so our team would win and (I suppose) I benefited by being on a winning team. (This didn't alter my gym grade, so I don't understand the benefit to me one way or the other, but I'll assume there was supposed to be one.) We each walked away from those experiences with almost no knowledge gained. Joe wasn't really better at English class, I wasn't really better at Gym class.

Is this also how our government is set up?
Could the wealthy person at the BIG CHAIR be teaching people how to do better financially, while those people also taught him or others how to do whatever they happen to be good at? But, instead, is that person "stealing second" without a thought about the person on third, trying to win some game while not caring if his own teammates are "out" because of it? And even if the team doesn't win, does he feel like he did a good job because he tried to win a team game by himself? Is he doing all the group work to get an A, not caring if no one else in the group learns anything, thinking they should just be glad to have an A for a change?

What if we really did help each other? Not just what we perceive as help ("You were on a winning team, weren't you?" "You got an A, didn't you?"), but actually sharing our knowledge to elevate each other. It's a New Year. Maybe new thinking is in order.