Monday, October 20, 2014

Leaning Forward

Two hearing impaired Lakeside Middle School eighth graders were featured in Sunday's Columbia News Times.  I was struck by the wisdom in a quote from one of the kids, referring to how he was able to become a standout player as an eighth grader after not having success as a seventh grader: "I did pushups and sit-ups until I puked." He may only be in eighth grade. And he may not hear as well as others. But he certainly has discovered a valuable tool that will serve him well throughout life. Most people don't intensely focus on what they want and work until they drop to achieve it. So a competitive advantage can be had by those who do.

And the wisdom didn't stop there. Asked how he has dealt with his hearing difficulties, the other featured young man shared his strategy of sitting in the front of classrooms so he can better understand teachers, and getting in the front of the group of players when being addressed by coaches. He also asks questions when he does not hear or understand instructions. I assume that because of these habits he is a pleasure to teach and coach. He probably gets the best out what the adults have to offer.

I call this active approach to learning “being present," as opposed to being a "zombie." And it makes all the difference. Keenan recently wrote about his learning complex physics concepts by intently watching and thinking about an in depth documentary on Netflix. I picture him leaning forward, pausing, rewinding, watching again, and pondering throughout and between his lessons, not unlike the Lakeside student at the front of the class who is also "leaning forward" and asking questions (rewinding).

Just as picking a goal and “doing push-ups and sit-ups until you puke” to achieve it will separate you from the pack, so will being present, leaning forward, and asking questions. Thanks to these two Panthers for reminding me.


  1. I like your coined phrase (lean forward), Chad. It's a great observation and great advice. We should put it on T-shirts.

  2. We'll have to check to see if I stole it. I think I have seen TV viewing referred to as a "lean back experience" and YouTube video watching and web surfing referred to as a "lean forward" experience. But I suppose disclosing the fact that I may be stealing it is sufficient to use it as our own. Ha!

  3. I think the "lean forward" is similar (but not stolen) to the "Leaning In" book that was written by a female CEO recently...?

    1. The book "Lean In" by Sandberg discusses Women, Work and the Will to Lead.