As I wheezed my way across the finish line in a recent 5K race, just behind some of the children’s “Fun Run” finalists, I asked myself, “Why do I do this?”. I have started exercising in an attempt to face the summer season with a little more dignity via a little less me, therefore I run.
Dignity, eh? To be sure, I’m not good at it, I don’t particularly enjoy it, and I may or may not have actually wet myself with nerves during my last race. Who can tell with the offensive amount of sweat pouring from every crease on my body? So even if I didn’t, I may as well have. That’s where I’m at with running.
Yesterday I went running after work. I did a 3 mile loop as slow as a person can while still considering it a jog. Unlike an official 5K race, I didn’t get shot at (that’s what the starting gun feels like) and I didn’t stop and walk every 1/2 mile. I dare say I actually enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, I was in excruciating pain from the waist down, but I’ve come to understand that that’s just part of the sport’s natural appeal.
I’ve been running in order to compete in these 5Ks and I think I have it backwards. Here’s the thing, I really don’t mind running - on my own terms. I hold running in a high regard as rigorous cardio activity; I might even say I enjoy the challenge. Running yesterday, I was thinking that I would happily continue this physical pursuit if I never have to run another race again (or at least only run one to check how I’m doing every once in a while).
As I rounded a corner of a particularly long uphill stretch, I had to consider the educational metaphor taking hold. Do I teach the way I’ve been training? That is, that the point of all the learning is that final assessment? Somewhere I got the idea that I needed to give “parallel assessments” to our state tests throughout the year. That is the equivalent of running a 5K race every weekend, or what I’d like to call “How to hate running 101". Is there a way to instill a love of learning my subject while allowing my students to find their own path to the finish line?
Now, I understand that some people love to run races. I know who they are, I’ve seen them from behind, quite far behind actually, and I have the t-shirts to prove it. You could say I’m 100% behind their cause. But that’s not the way to get me to appreciate the real point of running - lifelong fitness. So the next time I am tempted to organize a lesson around the final assessment, rather than around a meaningful and engaging interaction with knowledge and skill, I think I’ll tell myself to run, while I still can.
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