Keep trying: Netherlands and education

Huntelaar celebrates after his penalty kick gave Netherlands a late win.

Huntelaar celebrates after his penalty kick gave Netherlands a late win.

After Giovanni Dos Santos second-half goal, perennial underachievers Mexico could taste victory against the Netherlands June 29. It tasted like tacos with chile.

After nearly failing to qualify for World Cup, Mexico burst onto the field to bust expectations. They played some inspired soccer: quick combinations, sharp passing, glorious goals. Mexico had never gotten out of the Group of 16. And here they were one goal up against powerful Netherlands.

But Netherlands didn’t have a panic attack. No, Netherlands calmly just continued its attack.

With two minutes to the end of the game, Wesley Sneijder was fed a header from a corner kicked and smashed the ball into the near post. It was impossible for superstar goalie Guillermo Ochoa to stop. Mexico’s heart began to sink. Holland’s began to rise.

Then in extra time, Arjen Robben — probably the best player at this tournament — after troubling Mexico’s defense the entire 90 minutes, penetrated the area with some fancy and fast footwork. Rafael Marquez, who should have no better, fell for the bait. Attempting to defend too aggressively, he stomped down on Robben’s foot. The contact was minimal. Robben flopped theatrically. But there was contact. So the ref awarded a penalty kick.

A penalty kick is virtually impossible for the kicker to miss. Logically, Klaas Jan Huntelaar converted with only seconds to overtime. There would be overtime.

How does this relate to education? Simple, Netherland’s had an attitude we as teachers should have. They patiently pursued success unflaggingly through different avenues. They didn’t look for someone to blame. They believed in themselves.

Finding a culprit can be pointless, so is justifying our lack of success. At any moment, you can spark the inspiration of your students, but you must be inspired yourself at all times. The kids may engage, as long as you’re engaging. The Netherlands comeback was inspired by top professionals. Be a top professional and keep believing in those kids. Believe they can learn, they can overturn a deficit, they can become a success. Feed them a constant diet of optimism and enthusiasm.

Education reform maybe has its place. But attitude reform is the key.

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