Challenge Accepted

You wouldn’t think that getting the wind knocked out of you by a perfectly timed reverse punch would make you proud… would you?

If you are a teacher, you are probably familiar with the jolt of happiness you get when one of your students accomplishes something. This jolt, some would argue, is the reason we do such a taxing job for so little compensation. This jolt, this happiness, is our compensation.

But what if we take it a step further? Parents, especially, experience the fear of what may happen when your child surpasses you in something, or suddenly realizes that they know something that you don’t. Some teachers, I would argue, work very hard to make sure that this doesn’t happen; they work hard to make sure that the teacher is always regarded with the utmost respect, and that their answer is always the right one. Other teachers (and parents, for that matter) teach their children and students  to always question the answer, to challenge ideas, and come up with their own ways of thinking. This can be dangerous, especially when your teenager starts arguing with you about their “unreasonable” curfew. Beyond that small danger, however, this way of raising your child, or teaching your students, can prepare them for a world in which almost no questions have straight answers, a lot of information has little evidence, and answers are constantly being researched and rewritten. This constant questioning and challenging may be difficult (for them, and for you when you have to explain that pesky curfew) but it gives them the tools to live in this world. Because, honestly, this world isn’t always going to take care of them with black and white answers.

Yesterday, I happened to get hit with a perfectly timed, perfectly aimed, reverse punch that literally knocked the wind out of me. And besides the gut wrenching pain and lack of air that I felt, I felt something else, something more important. I felt pride. Pride that this student got such a good shot on me, his mentor. And you know what else? I didn’t let him hit me again. His hit taught me something—to block.

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