“Gwendolen did not greatly distinguish herself in
these first experiments, unless it were by the lively grace with which she took her comparative failure.”
-- George Eliot, Daniel Deronda
At the end of each day, I hope I can award myself an ‘A+’ for my failures. Like most mere mortals, I fail many times each day, and I hope I can do it each time with “lively grace”, as Eliot puts it. It’s easy to be nimble and bubbly when life is falling into its textbook places, but I want to be good company even when much of a school day seems lost in disappointment. When I read this passage today, I immediately pictured a dancer moving across the floor with “lively grace”, and I wondered if it’s possible for a person who has badly failed to behave in a similarly balanced and beautiful way. If a visitor came to my classroom just after a lesson plan had broken down, I would hope they would see a teacher who seemed poised and brave. I would want them to see a teacher who knew that his failure could foster fresh insights and new occasions for success, and who thus seemed relaxed and ready for triumphs.