Last night I watched the film, Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis as the 16th U.S. President. It was great to finally see it. I’m kind of a history nerd, but for some reason I had never watched it before. It’s an incredible film covering the final four months of Lincoln’s life. Daniel Day Lewis is outstanding in his portrayal of the president.
As I watched, I noticed several times how Lincoln used the word must as he considered the decisions and actions he would take as the leader of a bitterly divided nation. He was a courageous leader who stood firmly on principles in the face of incredible opposition and obstacles.
I reflected on the difficult decisions he made. I’m sure there were times he would rather have taken an easier path. He faced hardships and failure throughout his life, and he could’ve veered off course, retreated, or just settled for the status quo. He probably didn’t want to carry all of the heavy burdens of a Civil War, the bloodiest war in U.S. history.
But he did carry those burdens and remained a steadfast leader. He stood firm. Because he felt a moral imperative. He felt he must.
We are all faced with challenges as educators. We are often faced with choices about what we would rather do versus what we must do.
And while our decisions may not be described in history books, our work has great significance in the life of a child. We might be the best hope for some. We don’t always know what might hang in the balance. We don’t always know what difference we might make for this one child.
We usually have the opportunity to make the greatest difference when we choose must over rather.
I would rather not have that difficult conversation, but I must.
I would rather not have to learn something new, but I must.
I would rather not be creative today, but I must.
I would rather not call that parent, but I must.
I would rather not give that extra effort, but I must.
I would rather not be enthusiastic today, but I must.
I would rather not have to repair that relationship, but I must.
I would rather not consider another idea or perspective, but I must.
I would rather not give that kid a fresh start today, but I must.
I would rather not change my lesson, but I must.
I would rather not deal with new technology, but I must.
I would rather not overlook that offense, but I must.
Every day I see educators choosing must over rather. But we should always, always, always be asking, “What is best for kids?”
In this situation, “Am I choosing must or rather?”
Do you ever struggle to choose must instead of rather? I think we all face that. Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.
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