The Uses of Adversity

Teachers’ Convention. How is it that a common message emerges each year regardless of the speakers I hear?

Gerry Brooks, Temple Grandin, and Jann Arden. What could these three – a principal, a professor of animal science, and a singer, song-writer – possibly have in common?

All three spoke either directly or indirectly about the inevitability and usefulness of hardship. Gerry Brooks reminds us that “ervybody ain’t gonna like you” and that’s okay. But while these folks are challenging us or confronting us, he reminds us to consider any truth to the claims being made. This honesty with ourselves will ultimately make us better and stronger.

Temple Grandin has faced adversity because of perceptions about autism. As she proved in her keynote, her diagnosis is not a disadvantage. It is because of autism that she thinks differently. It is because of autism that she is able to educate others about the need for (and the incredible contributions of) different thinkers in our world.

Jann Arden has faced considerable hardship in her life, and yet, she is grateful for the experiences because of the learning that followed. While telling her story, she said repeatedly, “Good from bad.”

If I hadn’t yet caught this message, it was reiterated at the theatre last night by dear ol’ Shakespeare: “Sweet are the uses of adversity.”

How does this translate into what we do in the classroom? Quite naturally, I think. As we read about the stories of others, as we discuss the origin of an invention, as we study history, revolution and change, as we try to establish a growth mindset within our students, this lesson endures: Sweet are the uses of adversity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.