Tag Archives: OLYMPICS

Podium

The number one reason I’m thrilled that the Olympics are being held now is that it’s the perfect distraction from writing about whether or not we should mandate masks in August. (And of course provides an easy opportunity to chat about winning and losing).

I’m a sucker for the highlights of the ecstatic athletes like the Filipino weightlifter, winning the first gold medal in her country’s history. Her emotional outburst on this individual achievement was such a pleasure to watch (as opposed to the expectation that comes with many nations that anything less than the highest elevation at the podium is a failure).

I love sports because they bring a ruthless simplicity to life. You win or you lose. There are boundaries and nets, the rules are clear and there aren’t excuses. I will sidestep the irony of how this juxtaposes with the Olympic spirit, but my point is that this simplicity is very different from my day job. It would be relatively easy if all we had to do was achieve, to get a number that indicated we did a great job. But I’m not convinced that’s why I get up in the morning.

Which brings me to the release of IB scores in July, the podium moment for many international schools. Like many of my colleagues, I take a reprieve from the summer break to analyze the fateful IB scores, connect with families on their options, and reflect on how we can improve to expand opportunities for our students. As a practice, my school doesn’t post its achievement on social media. Of course I am happy for the collective achievement of international students, but for some reason it doesn’t sit well with me. For every 45, there’s a 22, for every university acceptance, there are dozens of fails. Yes, I get the celebratory aspect, especially in a pandemic, but aren’t international schools supposed to achieve at the highest levels?

I’m a sucker for a great story. I expect the achievers to achieve, just like the American, Chinese and ROC athletes. I don’t get excited about the medal count.

But give me the Italian high jumper tying arguably the greatest high jumper in history and I can’t stop thinking about it all day.

In our business, we talk a lot about growth as being our indicator of success. We want to move the needle on everyone, but the power of education to get someone where they didn’t expect to be (on the podium) is extraordinary. The girl from Syria, sent on scholarship by her family out of a refugee camp. The boy from Mali, displaced by conflict and accessing an international curriculum for the first time in his life. The Senior whose parents divorced and left him in a country far from home. Those are the moments, the indicators of our success, so much more than a number that, frankly, we are supposed to earn. We are, as privileged institutions, expected to be on the podium.

So, until the summer transitions to yet another pandemic opening, I will continue to watch my badminton, pole vault, gymnastics, and diving, looking for the opportunity to make a difference to that learner that might not expect to be on that podium, and to scream in adulation and excitement when they do.

Struggle & Triumph

By Barry Dequanne | Follow me on Twitter @dequanne

“The most important thing is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” ~ Olympic Creed

During this recent school break, I had the good fortune to spend time in Barcelona and made a point to visit the city’s track and field stadium, the site that hosted one of the most remarkable moments in Olympic history. During the 1992 summer Olympics, British athlete Derek Redmond was heavily favored to win the 400-meter event. While Redmond did not win a medal, it was his determination and courage that made his performance such an inspiration.

It was halfway through the 400 semifinal race when Redmond’s hamstring snapped and he fell to his knees in excruciating pain. After the other runners completed the race, the TV camera and the crowd return their attention to Redmond who somehow finds the strength to return to his feet and begin hopping down the track, determined to finish the race. It was at this moment that his father runs onto the track and tells Redmond that he does not need to finish the race. Redmond replies to his father, “Yes, I do.” His father replies stating that if Derrick was going to finish the race, then they were going to finish it together. The 65,000 spectators were on their feet cheering Derek and his father on with a deafening roar of support as they walked and hobbled forward and finally crossed the finish line.

Derek’s story embodies the spirit of the Olympic Creed and how the struggle in life is more important than the triumph. In this context, Yogi Berra’s words are apropos: Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches to you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.”  Michael Jordan has also famously spoken about how his failures have led to his success: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” It is through adversity, failure, and challenge that we grow the most and realize a deeper sense of the human spirit.  While Derek Redmond did not win the 400-meter gold medal, his performance in Barcelona is considered to be one of the greatest moments in Olympic history.

The lesson is that there is as much triumph in defeat as in victory, particularly when triumph is in the effort and effort is everything. Redmond also reminds us that no takes an odyssey alone. Whether it is a family member, coach, mentor, friend, or teacher, we have all had someone who has supported us in terms of our growth, development, and achievements. It is through these lenses that we can view the start of another school year and our work as a community of learners.

All of us at EAB, in our roles ranging from that of a teacher, student, and family member, are on an odyssey of growth and development. EAB’s mission statement – Learners inspiring learners to be inquisitive in life, principled in character, and bold in vision – highlights this belief. And, like Derek Redmond, no one is on this journey alone. It is our focus on relationships, the deep care for each other’s wellbeing, and a belief community, that contribute to making EAB such as special school and learning environment for our students.

The opening of the 27th modern summer Olympic games will be officially celebrated in Rio de Janeiro tonight and will represent an exciting focus during the coming weeks. The performance of the athletes will no doubt provide us with inspiration as we reflect on the relevance of the Olympic Creed in relation to our own context: “The most important thing is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”


PORTUGUESE VERSION:

 

Esforço e Triunfo

“A coisa mais importante não é vencer, mas participar, assim como a coisa mais importante na vida não é o triunfo, mas o esforço. O essencial não é ter conquistado, mas ter lutado bem”. ~ Olympic Creed

Durante as últimas férias, eu tive a sorte de passar algum tempo em Barcelona e fiz questão de visitar o campo e a pista de atletismo no estádio da cidade, local que foi palco de um dos momentos mais marcantes da história olímpica. Durante os Jogos Olímpicos de Verão de 1992, o atleta britânico Derek Redmond era o favorito para ganhar a prova de 400m. Apesar de Redmond não ter ganhado a medalha, foi a sua determinação e coragem que tornaram seu desempenho uma inspiração.

Foi no meio da semifinal de 400m que o tendão de Redmond rompeu e ele caiu de joelhos com uma dor excruciante. Depois que os demais atletas completaram a prova, as câmeras de televisão e o público voltaram sua atenção para Redmond, que de algulma forma encontrou forças para ficar em pé e começou a pular, determinado a terminar corrida. Foi nesse momento que seu pai entrou na pista e disse que ele não precisaria terminar a prova. Redmond respondeu: “Sim, eu preciso.” O seu pai respondeu que já que Derrick iria terminar a prova, eles iriam terminar juntos. Os 65.000 expectadores ficaram de pé torcendo por ele e seu pai com um rugido ensurdecedor, enquanto eles caminhavam e ele mancava até eles cruzarem a linha de chegada.

A história de Derek incorpora o espírito do credo olímpico e mostra como lutar torna-se mais importante do que o triufo. Neste contexto, as palavras de Yogi Berra são oportunas: “Perder é uma experiência de aprendizagem. Ela ensina a humildade. Ensina a dar duro. E é também uma motivação muito poderosa”. Michael Jordan também ficou famoso em falar sobre como os seus fracassos levaram ao seu sucesso: “Eu perdi mais de 9000 lances em minha carreira. Eu perdi quase 300 jogos. Por 26 vezes contaram comigo para o lance final e eu perdi. Eu falhei várias vezes na minha vida. E é por isso que eu consegui.” É através da adversidade, fracasso e dos desafios que nós crescemos mais e percebemos o sentido do espírito humano. Apesar de Derek Redmond não ter ganhado a medalha de ouro nos 400 metros, o seu desempenho em Barcelona foi considerado um dos melhores momentos na história das Olimpíadas.

A lição aqui é que há triunfo tanto na derrota quanto na vitória, particularmente quando o triunfo está no esforço e o esforço é tudo. Redmond também nos lembra que ninguém atravessa uma jornada sozinho. Quer seja um membro da família, um treinador, mentor, amigo ou professor, nós sempre tivemos alguém nos apoiando em nosso crescimento, desenvolvimento e realizações. É através dessas lentes que podemos ver o início de mais um ano escolar e nosso trabalho como uma comunidade de aprendizes.

Todos nós da EAB, em nossos papéis, que vão desde professor, aluno e membro da família, passamos por uma jornada de crescimento e desenvolvimento. A missão da EAB – Aprendizes inspirando aprendizes a serem questionadores na vida, firmes em seu caráter e com uma visão audaciosa – destaca essa crença. Como Derek Redmond, ninguém está sozinho nessa jornada. É o nosso foco em relacionamentos, o cuidado profundo com o bem-estar do outro e uma comunidade com um ideal, que contribuem para tornar a EAB uma escola e ambiente de aprendizagem especial para os nossos alunos.

A abertura do 27º Jogos Olímpicos será comemorada oficialmente, hoje, no Rio de Janeiro e vai representar algo emocionante durante as próximas semanas. O desempenho dos atletas, sem dúvida, nos inspira em como refletir sobre a relevância da crença olímpica em relação ao nosso próprio contexto: “A coisa mais importante não é vencer, mas participar, assim como a coisa mais importante na vida não é o triunfo, mas a luta. O essencial não é ter vencido, mas lutado bem”.

Barry Dequanne

Blog: www.barrydequanne.com


Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY-NC 2.0) flickr photo by Geraint Rowland: Cristo Redentor https://www.flickr.com/photos/geezaweezer/23322487852/