On Being Brave



“I’m not funny. What I am is brave,” Lucille Ball of I Love Lucy fame explained one day to an interviewer. She meant that because her scriptwriters were funny that she only had to have the courage to follow their lead whether it required her to shove celery up her nose or to mount a trapeze just to score a laugh. I think courage could replace all sorts of adjectives: kind, charismatic, but the one I’d like to tackle today is smart.


How does being smart require you to be brave? First, you have to admit you’re interested in learning about a subject. That shouldn’t require a lot of courage, but it requires you to expose a vulnerability – that you don’t already know everything there is to know about a topic. Many of you commented on your parent conference forms that you don’t volunteer an answer in class if there’s a chance that you won’t get it right. True learning requires that you take that risk.


Choosing to be smart also requires choosing to be brave because for too many of you showing an interest in school marks you as being less than to your friends, who I suspect are equally afraid they’ll be left behind if you get smarter. When I see those of you who’ve stretched yourselves beyond what your friends think is cool, I want to give you a medal. Change can be scary. Why not get smarter together? There’s no limit on the amount of intelligence any group of 8th graders can possess.


We’ve gotten to the point of the year where if you haven’t faced this particular fear, then you might not pass because you’ve dug yourself such a deep hole. It’s not too late to turn this around. Or if you’re someone who’s been content to work just hard enough to get grades that will keep your parents off of your backs but haven’t yet given your all, you too have a second chance. But it has to start now and you have to be as brave as Lucy was when she faced knives being hurled at her for one episode and as willing to look silly if need be as when she drank mayonnaise in another. You can be just as brave if you’d only try.

I’m participating in the Slice of Life Challenge. Won’t you join me?


Published in: on March 6, 2014 at 10:35 am  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hey Judy,
    I hope you get to read this to your students. I am thinking of reading it to mine, but for some of them, it would be so dead on, that I think it would backfire! What wonderful thoughts.
    Hope to see you soon.

  2. Judy, how true. Many students don’t show their interest in something because they fear what their peers might think or say. Hope you read this to your students and they take it to heart.

  3. Inspiring post, Judy! I love this. Being smart certainly takes bravery. This is a great post to share with our students, but also one we can apply to our own lives as “grown ups”! 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing this with us. As a fellow middle school teacher, my colleague and I were having this very discussion and considering how to solve this puzzle. What are we doing wrong? What can we do right to motivate? It’s good to know that we are not alone. Words like these give us more reason to keep hope alive. To share passion. To help students feel true accomplishment. And as a result pride. But first comes hard work–the fear of which we must overcome in an act of true bravery.

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