Unexpected Value

A report on Woodlawn Basketball for the 2015-2016 season might be misunderstood if looked at in the usual win and loss manner, but that is not the Woodlawn Way of looking at things, thankfully. Winning eluded the girls and the boys won one of their games, but it is the moments, the improvement and the joy of living that is the true story of the season.

Our opponents from the many schools in our league left our gym without realizing what they had just experienced. For most of them it was a victory. But I fear, as T. S. Eliot wrote, “ (they)… had the experience but missed the meaning.”

Our students confound the saying concerning the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. “Agony” is hard to see in the faces of the boys and girls who make up the Woodlawn team. I cannot say it is joy that I see but a certain feeling of happiness. The teams got better as time went on, and their spirit was undaunted.

When I ask myself what our student-athletes are like as people, I find that they put sports in a different perspective. It is one that needs to be analyzed because it points to a different and much deeper potential reality.

I heard someone say that the “Woodlawn” way of looking at things is fine, but the world is competitive and not a nice environment. They would add that the young people should be trained to take their place in the competition. They should be toughened to participate in a rough world.

I would offer that the values our young folks are picking up through service learning and the ambiance of this place might just help them see a bigger role in society as they go forth. Maybe they can be part of a change of the world around them to make it a better and more rewarding place.

For a long time educators have debated the need for training people to take their place in an established society vs. teaching them to be ready to change that society as needed. There is joy to be found in the journey, and Woodlawn’s rich, multi-faceted learning environment helps our students find that joy.

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