Monday, April 13, 2015

"The main idea in golf, as in life I suppose, is to learn to accept what cannot be altered and to keep on doing one's own reasoned and resolute best whether the prospect be bleak or rosy." Bobby Jones

I had the extraordinary opportunity to attend Saturday at the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, on Saturday, April 11.  A day at The Masters is a dream for every avid golfer, and although I have been lucky enough to experience many U.S. Opens, Senior Opens, and even The Byron Nelson, there is a special draw for The Masters.  If you do not already know this, Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. (1902-1971), aka Bobby Jones, the decorated amateur golfer and ambassador for the game, conceived and built Augusta National as his homage to St. Andrews in Scotland.  A great gentleman with exquisite manners, Bobby called a penalty on himself, and when a fuss was made about his honesty, he remarked "You might as well praise a man for not robbing a bank as to praise him for playing by the rules."

The crowd's first-class behavior and manners at The Masters are legendary, and I experienced that firsthand on Saturday.  People place their chairs where they would like to end their day on the course, but during the interim period, anyone is welcomed to sit in the seats until the owners arrive.  The Southern hospitality from the ladies' room attendants to the state troopers and marshals was exquisite. The spectators were nicely dressed, polite, and appropriate, more so than any other spectators I have ever seen at any sporting event.  No denim, shirts tucked in, no shoving or shouting.  You might be wondering why The Masters is known to have the best behaved spectators in all of golf.  The answer is simple.  Bobby Jones made his expectations clear.  This is an excerpt from the back of Saturday's pairings sheet : "In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum are just as important as rules governing play. It is appropriate for spectators to applaud successful strokes in proportion to difficulty but excessive demonstrations by a player or his partisans are not proper because of the possible effect upon other competitions.  Most distressing to those who love the game of golf is the applauding or cheering of misplays or misfortunes of a player. Such occurrences have been rare at The Masters but we must eliminate them entirely if our patrons are to continue to merit their reputation as the most knowledgeable and considerate in the world."

How can we apply Bobby Jones and his high expectations to the classroom?  I believe that students can and will reach the height of the bar that is set for them by the teacher, whether it be in behavior, grades, homework, or honesty. Teachers must be very clear in their spoken and written expectations, and teachers must model the behavior for their students. You as a teacher must talk the talk to inspire your students, and you really must walk the walk 100 percent of the time.  It is a good idea to discuss your expectations with the students, and let them know that your goals for them are going to make them better at school and at life.  I always told my students that I would be remiss in my duties as their teacher if I did not hold them to the high level for which I felt they could and should be accountable.  I told them that I really believed in them, and that reaching expectations would help them to realize their potential. A gentle reminder rather than a harsh reprimand seemed to work best for me, as no one really wants to be embarrassed for a faux pas in front of others.

I know that teachers have so much to do, but helping students achieve their very best in terms of behavior and grades and honesty will mold them into better citizens. And isn't that our job as teachers?  Bobby Jones spoke and wrote what he believed, and he exercised his convictions every day of his life.  He influenced millions of people during his lifetime, and his influence continues today, at The Masters and beyond.  Your influence as a teacher does not end when your students leave your classroom, as you are providing life lessons for your students.  Make them the best lessons possible, and strong enough to last for a lifetime.

"The main idea in golf, as in life I suppose, is to learn to accept what cannot be altered and to keep on doing one's own reasoned and resolute best whether the prospect be bleak or rosy."  Bobby Jones 

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