Monday, August 11, 2008

Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee

No, this is not my order for breakfast.

This is an anecdote that I recently heard that fits well for the beginning of the school. I wish I had the reference to provide and give credit to its author. This is a little more "touchy-feely" than I normally prefer to get, but I liked the story. I am learning that when things don't go the way that you want, look in the mirror first, before placing blame on others.

A mother and daughter were having a "strenuous" discussion about how effective she is warming the bench on her soccer team. The daughter wanted to quit the team because she felt that she was not doing anything.

The mother then, without conversation, took out 3 identical pots, filled them with equal amounts of water and placed them on the stove top and set the burners to the same level of heat.

In the first pot, the girl's mother placed a carrot, in the second an egg, and in the third she placed some fresh ground coffee. The mother let the pots and their contents sit on the stove for 30 minutes. During this time, she said nothing and her daughter look at this activity with wonder and a puzzled look, still upset about her situation regarding the soccer team.

When the half hour passed, the mother removed the pots from the stove. Her daughter moved over to the pots and asked what was the meaning of this demonstration. The mother ask her daughter to describe the carrot before and after the time in the pot. The daughter replied that the carrot was firm and crisp before being placed in the pot and it was mushy and limp.

The mother then asked the daughter to describe the egg before and after the time in the pot. The daughter said that it looked the same. The mother then asked, what if she cracked the egg on the table? The daughter then said that before the pot the egg would have been liquidy and dripped all over the table and floor, but after the pot, the egg was solid and unyielding.

The mother then strained the contents of the 3rd pot and had the daughter take a sip. The daughter enjoyed the full, rich flavor that the coffee had.

Before the daughter could say a word, her mother said the following, you can let a situation defeat you and you become mushy like the carrot. You could also let a situation harden you and make you unyielding to other possibilities. Or, you can be like the coffee grounds.

The daughter asked, but what did the coffee grounds do? Her mother replied, they changed the water. She then asked her daughter if there was a reason she was on the bench. could her daughter try harder? Practice more? Listen to and learn from the coach? The daughter smiled and realized that she could change her own situation.

With the new school year upon us, how can we do things to change the water? When students are not performing as well as I would like, I know that I used to say that the kids were just not trying. While that may be true in some instances, how many different approaches did I try? Did I call home enough to get encouragement for the student on 2 ends? Did I make the student come in for extra help or just give them a flimsy option of attending? Did I make it easier for the child to succeed or continue to fail?

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