An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

We must set out to do a good job…

In Education, motivation on April 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I’ve just finished marking some homework. There’s always one student who puts that extra effort in and takes pride in their work. I was reminded of a Vietnamese student I taught a number of years ago who had a difficult personal history. She would put her heart and soul into her work! I ended up keeping her notebooks to show to other students.  While marking, I also couldn’t help think of Martin Luther King’s speech about doing a good job:

“Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.”

(to students of Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967)

Mohammed Ali was once asked if he wasn’t a boxer what would he be. He replied ‘even if I’d been a garbage man, I’d have been the world’s greatest garbage man.’ For me this quality of doing your best, totally and completely, seems to be linked with integrity. I see it in great athletes like Maradona or musicians such as Zakir Hussain but I also find it in people who go about doing their daily work quietly. For example, a friend of mine who runs a local cafe. When he makes a sandwich he’s like an artist at work; such precision, attention and care is given it’s amazing to watch. I remember a falafel sandwich maker downtown in Amman, Jordan who had a similar quality to his work. It was just fascinating watching him make falafel wraps.  I’m left with a question – how best to cultivate this quality in my children (without it getting too serious about it)?May be they’ll have it naturally! And also by extension, once they’ve done their best, how not depend on the approval of others to validate their work or be disappointed if it’s criticised? And to learn to keep persevering in the face of difficulty as Derek Redmond did in the 400m sprint

  1. Greetings,

    This is a great post. Thank you for it!

    How wonderful is this quote from MLK!

    Your blog is an example of this advice :-).

    All good wishes,


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