Is it Okay to Just be Okay?

Fente d’assaut, originally uploaded by n.vasse.

Today my son participated in his first fencing tournament. He’s been taking lessons in Saber at the Rochester Fencing Club for just under a year and, I must confess, I still can’t tell who scores. Even when the judge is there officiating, I can’t tell who has won the point. My son tries to teach me about the parry and repost and a host of other things with fancy names that I can’t seem to retain. I don’t know what my problem is because I want to understand it, but I just can’t. It’s not that I’m not trying to understand. It just seems like everything is beyond my aptitude. Meanwhile, my 10 year-old understands everything and seems to pick things up easily and by osmosis.

Trying to understand something but not being able to was humbling and it reminded me that not everyone is going to understand the message I am trying to deliver to them. No matter how hard I try, no matter how many visuals I include, whether my class is web-enhanced or not, some of my students still are just not going to get it.

My son didn’t win the tournament, but he did win a few matches. Most importantly, he is willing to keep trying. He was not broken down by the experience of losing. He wasn’t discouraged. He was actually inspired to be better the next time. I guess in some ways I am like an Intro Level Saber teacher; I provide my students with the basics, and some of them will excel and some will be okay. Others will be lousy, and the least inspired of the bunch will drop out.

It is rather awful to not be able to understand something. Frustrating, for sure. And while I suppose it is not the end of the world to not be able to “get it” when it comes to fencing, I am having a hard time convincing myself that it is acceptable for some students to never move beyond a basic skills set when it comes to reading and writing.

Is it okay to just be okay?

5 responses to “Is it Okay to Just be Okay?

  1. I’d say yes. The way, I suppose, most kittens will never learn how to play the piano, to mention another fairly “unnatural” skill. Referring, of course, to one of B F Skinner’s daughters who says she taught her kitten to play the piano, but ok, with a dad like hers, why not?

    As I remember, when I was young, centuries ago, I had a great many things on my mind that had absolutely nothing to do with the skills and aptitudes my poor teachers tried to impart to me. Grateless? Maybe. Point being at a certain age, say from 0 to 100, the idea of being taught is not the most attractive thing we can imagine.

    Those are my two cents.

    J

  2. Amy Bernstein

    Of course it’s ok to be “ok” at some things. Not everything. Reading and writing are necessary skills to get anywhere in life, and being just “ok” will not get you very far. Fencing, on the other hand is not necessary for daily living, so it’s probably ok to be short of spectacular. However, it also depends on the person and their ambitions.

  3. Renee, as I like to say in the moments when maybe it is NOT ok, just to be ok… “good enough ISN’T.” Love the blog!

  4. I have just returned from the SYC at Rochester & then did a blog search about Fencing & this popped up.

    I wonder if you were there too….I am so bummed think that I missed a chance to meet a bloggie idol!

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