Updated: Mar 31, 2020
*This story was originally published in "Chew on This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder", a book of inspirational short stories by Gary Brock and Kelly Tuck, and is available for purchase here!
*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!
“Welcome to the Class of Mistakes,” read the placard outside of my daughter’s seventh grade homeroom class.
“Uh, I’m not sure I like that,” I whispered to my wife with a scrunched nose as we followed our daughter into Ms. Wilson’s classroom. There were already several parents and children wandering around the classroom for the new school year’s Open House, and I could see who I assumed was Ms. Wilson chatting with a parent near the daily schedule board.
We meandered around the classroom, taking in the brightly covered bulletin boards, motivational posters, and the strategically placed learning centers. Our daughter quickly found several of her friends and almost instantly disappeared into thin air, leaving my wife and I alone to finish our self-guided tour.
We soon noticed a small group of parents had clustered around Ms. Wilson, listening intently as she shared some information that we couldn’t quite make out from our position in the classroom. My wife nudged my arm, nodding for us to join the group, and I dutifully complied.
Ms. Wilson walked slowly around the classroom with us parents in tow, explaining what each poster within her classroom represented in regards to the Class of Mistakes moniker she used for her classroom. My eyebrows lifted in intrigue.
The first poster was of the inventor Thomas Edison. It read, “As an inventor, Thomas A. Edison made one thousand unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When asked how it felt to have failed one thousand times, Mr. Edison responded, “I didn’t fail one thousand times. The light bulb was an invention with one thousand
steps.” I couldn’t help but smile. Positioned directly under the poster was a table with a lightbulb screwed into a base with an on/off switch.
Moving to the next poster, we found ourselves staring at the image of Harry Potter and his magic wand. The poster read, “Twelve publishers rejected J.K. Rowling’s book about a boy wizard before a small London publishing company picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It is now a world famous success which has resulted in a complete series of novels, several companion books, a movie franchise, and a theme park.” My wife glanced at me and nodded. Under the poster in a sealed display case was the complete set of novels in the Harry Potter series.
Following Ms. Wilson across the room, we stood in front of the next poster which featured George Washington Carver. It read, “After researching and recommending the peanut as crop rotation for cotton and then experiencing the displeasure of the agricultural community with a crop that could not be sold, Mr. Carver developed over three hundred products that could be made from peanuts.” My wife looked at me and I raised my eyebrows approvingly. Under the poster of George Washington Carver was a giant ceramic peanut.
Ms. Wilson then pointed to the far wall with what she said was probably most students’ favorite poster. The poster was of Michael Jordan. It read, “I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots in my career, lost three hundred games, been trusted to take the game winning shot twenty-six times...and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.” My wife and I smiled at each other. Underneath the poster on a small table rested a display case with a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes.
Turning to face us, Ms. Wilson explained with a smile, “This is why I call my room the Class of Mistakes. I believe that mistakes are a part of life’s menu, so why miss out on any of the meal’s courses? Confucius said, ‘our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.’ Our children are growing and learning, and with learning comes errors. Learning is also being willing to make mistakes and taking the risk of failure. Many times you have to lose in order to win.”
She continued, “Hopefully each of you will reinforce in your homes what I will be teaching here this year. It is my goal each year to inspire, mold, shape, and teach my students to persevere...to keep on going even when they make mistakes, when they fail, when they feel like giving up...and they will because that is the learning process. I believe if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything. I encourage them to be ‘doers’ as I am certain all of you do. Doers make mistakes and that is how they learn and can ultimately succeed. Every day when my students walk out of this classroom, I remind them...
* * * * * * *
FALL DOWN SEVEN TIMES,
GET UP EIGHT.
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*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!