Wednesday, September 9, 2015

#ANW - Yes, I Admit I Watch It :-)

American Ninja Warrior Season 7 comes to a close next Monday.  I am sad to see Season 7 end, but I'm already looking forward to Season 8. Who would believe that I would enjoy a competition like ANW, but the truth is, there is so much to like about it!

I love the human interest stories about the competitors. Some share heartbreaking stories, and others have overcome personal challenges to get to this point in their lives. One can't help but root for them to get through the different obstacles, and I find myself cheering for every one of them.

I admire each competitor's passion and drive to take on these challenges. I watch the videos of how they trained and how much time and effort they put into improving themselves physically and mentally, knowing that all that effort could be wiped out at the first obstacle.

I feel their heartbreak when competitors don't qualify for the next stage and hear their deep disappointment at having failed in their quest.  Yet there they are the following season, more determined than ever to conquer the obstacle that took them down the previous year.

As educators, we want our students to feel this kind of passion for something and to demonstrate the determination of these competitors. Yet we often don't allow our students to share what they excel at. I have seen students so excited to talk about video games. They would beat me soundly; I wouldn't stand a chance if they challenged me!  Other students have musical, athletic, or artistic talents that we are not aware of in school. When we focus so much of school time on academics and testing, those students who may have talents in other areas might never receive the accolades they deserve.

As I listen to the personal stories of some of the ANW competitors, I wonder how many were  poor students in school. Some were drifting through life until they heard about this competition. ANW became an obsession to them, an opportunity to prove to others - but more importantly, to themselves - that with focus and perseverance, they could achieve something they never thought possible.

Our job as educators is to encourage every student to explore new experiences and to persevere when they find something that they are interested in.  We don't know what their passions and talents will be, and it will probably change numerous times in their lives. However, they won't know if they don't have the opportunity to try.

School is a great place to start engaging students to pursue their interests!


  1. I agree... really enjoy watching ANW. An excellent example of perseverance and self-directed learners. Also, I feel more in shape... just watching them... LOL

    1. LOL, Lora! You see those guys and gals with all their muscles? Impressive!

  2. I love students who have that deep passion for anything. Last year, I had a student who was an expert at all things World War II and impressed a guide at Pearl Harbor by telling the tour group many bits of information that most people did not know. When he moved, his parents took him to Pearl Harbor for one last trip. A docent recognized him (as he went there often) and made sure she gave him an American flag that was flown there. You should have see how proud he was. It is awe-inspiring to me when I see students like that, especially when I know they have constantly struggled in other areas. It shows that there is resilience and that we as teachers could tap into that determination and passion if we knew how or if we knew enough about our students. Conversations like this help us remember that there are lessons that are just as important (if not more so) than the academics which we push so hard.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Chelsea! Yes, if we can help our students find their passion, they will have a better chance for success in life. You are a special teacher who really understands the needs of your students and the importance of helping them to realize that they CAN be successful.