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.


Pay attention to the subplot


Klinsmann with his former assistant and friend, Low.

On the surface, USA’s pass to World Cup knockout stage leaves people scratching their heads. We lost, but we won?

On the surface, the Germans dominated, as expected. And the United States did a decent job defending and mounted a few attacks. They managed the result, which with low-scoring loss combined with a favorable Portugal-Ghana scoreline, helped them to the next round.

But if you dig deeper, there are fascinating subplots.

Take the U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. He’s German, marshaling forces against his native country. Would he throw the game for Sacred Mother Country? He’s basked in the sun of Southern California since 1990, but does German blood course through his veins?

Or even more thought-provoking is the question of rivalry. The current German coach, Joachim Low, was his former assistant. Actually, the previous friendship and collaboration made the current contest more intense. Low has criticized his former boss’s tactical ability. Klinsmann declared before the faceoff: “We want to go for gold!”

The subplot if the major story. What happens on the surface is just a product of what happens below the surface.

When your students enter your class, it’s the hell at home that’s dooming them. If you can give your student the tools to calm the inner storm, you can help him pass your class.

Pay attention to subtle signals of inner turmoil. Who is being bullied in your class? Who is socially outcast? Who is so insecure that she flaunts and I-don’t-care attitude?

Dig deep because today’s teaching assumes a chaotic and distracted mind. There’s no more Leave-it-to-Beaver households in America, and as a result the kids are venting their frustrations at school.

In the end, the U.S. lost to superior fire power, not coaching prowess. The players made the difference. But they lived to see another day in World Cup play.

In the end, the student whose heart you touch will be transformed in his/her educational success.