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Use the Cards You’re Dealt | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

Use the Cards You’re Dealt

This morning, I met with an inspirational genius before I taught a high school speech class designed for local homeschoolers. Meeting him utterly changed my take for the day’s lesson. Our official lesson was an introduction of oral interpretation speeches.

We started by having students write on paper things they couldn’t do. Then I led them outside, where we faced a large cornfield. I carried a trash can with me. Then, I gave an example of a vespers exercise my daughter had adapted from Chicken Soup for the Classroom Soul.

I’d like you to think of something you can’t do. Maybe you can’t sing, or dance, or maybe you’re like me and can’t run, jump, catch, throw, or do a handstand. Now, imagine what would happen if whatever your can’t is exploded. What if we got rid of it right now?

Then I had them throw their papers into the trash can and continued….

Friends, we gather today to honor the memory of ‘I Can’t.’ While he was with us on earth, he touched the lives of everyone, some more than others. His name, unfortunately, has been spoken in every public building – schools, city halls, state capitols, and, yes, even the White House.

We have provided ‘I Can’t’ with a final resting place, and he is survived by his brothers and sister, ‘I Can,’ ‘I Will,’ and ‘I’m Going to Right Away.’ They are not as well-known as their famous deceased relative and are certainly not as strong and powerful yet. Perhaps someday, with your help, they will make an even bigger mark on the world.

May ‘I Can’t’ rest in peace and may everyone present pick up their lives and move forward in his absence.

I continued, handing each student a greeting card face down so they couldn’t see what it said. Some were encouraging. Others were not.

Look at your card. Did you have any control over what card you got?

They said no.

But do you have control over what you do with the card you were given?

They said yes.

So our assignment right now is to shout, in the most dramatic voice possible. Copy me. I control what I do with the cards I am given. Use your biggest, most dramatic voices.

They went down the line and each said, with growing confidence that they controlled what they did with their cards.

We then resumed a class on using dramatic techniques with oral interpretation exercises. My hope after the lesson is that they remember to focus on what they do with their cards and not on their “I can’ts” or the cards they wish they had been dealt instead.

One Response to “Use the Cards You’re Dealt”

  1. Wayne McEvilly October 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    Mary –
    I remember meeting you through a link to your blog in a tweet – I was so impressed by you in your role as “Plato packin’ mama” as you taught your own teens the lessons that Plato imparted over 2000 years ago.
    It is good to see that you are going strong in this endeavor with young people and teaching them valuable life lessons in a way which engages, entertains, amuses, and inspires.
    I know you will keep up this good work, and that your techniques are transferable to older and younger groups as well as individuals.
    With appreciation,

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