Learning a new skill or how sculling has made me humble…

Having just completed my first year at Tuxedo Park School, I have had the enormous pleasure of watching a full year, in its entirety, with peaks and valleys, busy times and quieter times. I am a big proponent of learning a new skill and making sure that even as adults in schools, we are never too far away from the edge of discomfort that most students experience all the time: learning new skills, acquiring new knowledge and working from discomfort to mastering something new, and sometimes wildly different. For me, this summer, that experience is in a long, narrow scull on the waters of Tuxedo Lake.

I have been taking sculling lessons with a local pro and trying to master the art of keeping the boat upright, maintaining even hands with the oars and relaxing my hands and shoulders. On a calm, quiet morning when the lake could be mistaken for a mirror, this is easy. On windy days, I tense up and panic; uneven hands and tense shoulders equal a flipped boat. The terms pull, feather, breathe, recovery andrelax take on new meaning and carry new importance as I try and move through the water calmly, rhythmically. It’s a lot like a day at school. It’s a good reminder to mush through discomfort and challenge myself to do something I spend time thinking I absolutely cannot do. I think of our students and I admire their strength and courage. They take risks every day; they make progress, try and again, succeed, fail and repeat the cycle all over again. I admire them. I want to be just like them. And so, I row.

Once I am in the zone, making my way from one side of the lake to another, I relax and settle into my strokes, feeling connected to the boat and the water, in awe of the beauty and the wonder of this magical place. A red tail hawk here, a fish there, some folks cycling along the road and a few guys fishing in their boat.  It’s amazing and I feel so lucky. Enjoy your summer and learn something new.


About Kathleen McNamara Head's Up!

an educator in Independent Schools for over 28 years
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