Sunday, January 07, 2007

Stop Complaining

Like most folks, I do my fair share of complaining. (Maybe even more than my fair share.) In my professional life I've been doing a lot of complaining lately about the slow pace of change, about how hard it is to get schools and teachers and students to change. About how much work and time it takes to do all these things and there doesn't seem to be a lot of indication of progress.

Intellectually I understand that I really don't have too much to complain about. That in the grand scheme of things we have it awfully good here, that our education system is still a noble experiment in educating all students, that our standard of living is one that the majority of people in the world can only dream of, that we really don't have that much to complain about. But even though I understand that intellectually, that still doesn't change my emotions, the frustration and anxiety I feel on a daily basis.

But that's the great thing about the read/write web. There are now so many stories available to us to help put things in perspective. Thanks to Jim Gates, here's just one story that should help us stop complaining. View the video below first, then read the story from Sports Illustrated, then visit the Team Hoyt website.

Then come back here, reminded of the power of the human spirit and of what folks who are motivated can accomplish. And then stop complaining about how hard all this is and roll up your sleeves, we have work to do. Because we CAN - and WILL - change the world.


  1. Karl,
    This is the year for no more CAN'Ts and no more WON'Ts.
    Here is my blog about it from
    I love the post from Liz O'Neill, I knew I made the right blog! You always inspire me by what you publish, so keep publishing.
    Over and Out!

  2. I have used this story and video with our football team as well as in the classroom. It is an outstanding story of courage, love, and determination. I know I do my fair share of complaining, but this story always bring me back to reality. I actually plan on using this on my first day of class tomorrow when talking about the "change the world" theme. I don't think that I will teach much Biology tomorrow but simply talk with my students about this theme. I didn't do enough of that first semester and want to build a better foundation this semester. I have another version of the Hoyt story that I used in football if anyone is interested.

  3. Thanks, Karl--for making me cry. I've been teaching for 32 years. I can't wait to start a new semester. I've been thinking constructively all vacation. I'm so excited.

  4. Karl,
    Thank you! What a way to start the new year. You would have no way of knowing but I started my career as a special education teacher for children with severe/profound multiple disabilities. It was some of the most rewarding days of my life. I've seen that sparkle in a child's eye to know that they're there and with you. The video brought back so many memories for me. As you said, we have nothing to complain about. We are blessed.

    When you think that the "change" isn't happening fast enough, just think about the time and effort for this family over the years to have a meal, get to the store or even take a family vacation. It took them physical strength, lots of planning to make sure that places were accessible, schlepping a wheelchair took time.....lots of time. But when there was a smile from their son or that twinkle in his eye that silently said, "thank you", it made it all worth it.

    As you make changes and get just one teacher to change how they instruct- think of that as your 'thank you' for the work you do in trying to make changes in your district. And remember, some people may never say it with words.....sometimes the thank you is silent.

  5. I would like to say that I really enjoyed the video. I am in Ms. Smith's English Honors 9 class, and she showed it to us. It was very powerful, and really hit home for me.

    I was born 3 months prematurely and had a lot of severe problems following that. One of the problems was an inter-ventricular hemorrhage. My brain was bleeding, causing the doctors to speculate that the probability that I would have cerebral palsy was extremely high. Fortunately, it turned out all right in the end.

    This has had a huge impact on me in my life. My parents are grateful that my sister and I did not turn out to have cerebral palsy, the chances were that high. Because of this, my heart goes out to people I see with that disability. Of course, I do not have cerebral palsy, so it would be impossible to fathom how they must live their lives, but there is always a pull at my heartstrings to see them. I try to remember that I should live for the ones who can’t. This video made me stop and think more about the situation. I am eternally grateful that I do not have this disability, but I am always brought to my senses when I realize, like I did with this video, that I could have been the one with cerebral palsy.

    The incorporation of the song, “I Can Only Imagine” was perfect. It totally encompassed the theme of the video. The video was so moving, I had to leave the room to compose myself after crying.

    Thank you Ms. Smith and Mr. Fisch for the opportunity to be brought back down to Earth.

    Live for the ones who can’t.


  6. Another thought, for Ms. Smith.

    I would like to add to our discussion in class about why you showed us this video. You will probably appreciate this, coming from the kid who can't get used to the technology idea of class.

    My first thought about why you showed us the video was to show that technology is amazing because of the way that it helps those who do not have the ability to communicate themselves do that.


  7. Laura, Your comments are moving and beautiful. Thank you for sharing. You gave me so much to think about.