By Shari Idelson, SED 2015
As a lifetime Red Sox fan, I could not have been more thrilled and excited when Koji Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter for the final out of Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. Having a World Series win at Fenway was the best thing that could have happened to this city. The parade, filled with duck boats and confetti, made everyone in this city proud to be Boston Strong.
As the celebrations dwindled, I found myself thinking about how this 2013 Red Sox team became such a successful group. With Drake’s lyrics in my head, “started from the bottom, now we’re here,” I couldn’t help but think: how did this championship victory happen? How was it possible to go from the bottom of the American League to winning the World Series? How does a group of people improve in just a year?
These questions do not only apply to the Red Sox, but can be asked about our students, as well. How do we make our students feel like they just won the World Series?
The Red Sox teach us that success does not come without failure. Ignoring David Ortiz’s outstanding World Series batting average, most players in the lineup had an average batting average of .150, which means they were successful 15% of the time and failed the other 85%. However, within that 15%, the Red Sox were able to pull through, score some runs, and win a lot of important games. As educators, we need to tell our students that it is OK to fail because eventually, after many tries and practice, they will eventually succeed.
The Sox also demonstrate that leadership and confidence matter, especially in times of doubt. In Game 4, the St. Louis Cardinals took the lead quickly, leaving the Sox feeling down and hopeless. However, future MVP David Ortiz rallied his team in the dugout of the 5th inning, giving his teammates a major pump-up speech. Leading by example, Big Papi hit a double, and others followed, resulting in a big win for the Sox. As a veteran player, Papi provided motivation, confidence, and encouragement for his teammates. We need to act as the Big Papi figure in our classroom. In times of difficulty and doubt, our students will need our help to push through and strive for success.
One more reason this Red Sox team was successful was their unity, passion, and ability to have fun. It was hard to miss those big, scruffy beards. Their beards represented their passion and dedication for their team and the game. They also exemplified their ability to have a little fun and to show their unity as a team. While it was important to take their work seriously, their beards reminded them that, even though winning was a common goal, they were playing a game together that they loved and enjoyed regardless of the score. Future educators should focus on finding a way to create enjoyment and fun in the material they are teaching to their students. We want our students to want to learn and be in class. If we demonstrate our passion in the subject we are teaching, we can hopefully pass it on to our students, who will learn to find joy in learning.
The Red Sox showed us that success is possible, no matter how far to the bottom you start. If we relay the idea that failing is acceptable, if we act as a mentor and leader in the classroom, and if we share our passions, our students are much more likely to become successful. I root for the Red Sox not only because they are entertaining, but also because they can teach us about far more than just baseball. They teach us how to rise from the bottom and be the best we can be.
*Shari Idelson is a junior at Boston University School of Education, studying mathematics education.