In The LEGO Movie, they sing that “everything is awesome” because, in the little brick world in which the movie begins, everything about life operates in such a way that even mistakes seem wonderful in the rare instances when they occur. And by rare, of course, they mean almost never. The real world in which we live does not work like that. Life is an excessively flawed diamond full of contradictions, accidents, headaches, failure, difficulties, joy, unbearable laughter, and hardship, and who would want it any other way? Perfection is boring.
For example, it is my opinion that “To Build a Fire” by Jack London is one of the most beautifully crafted short stories an American writer has produced. Every school year, this is the story that led off my literature classes. And every school year, no matter how I tried, it failed to ignite with my students. Everything is awesome only because rarely is everything awesome, and that makes the world a constant source of surprise and wonder.
We think we want things to be perfect, flawless—but deep down inside we know that perfection just isn’t…well…perfect. Or ideal. Certainly science is this way. Many laboratory mistakes end up being described as “happy accidents,” including the discovery of Vaseline, Post-It notes, vulcanized rubber, and dynamite. Life is not all smooth sailing and sunshine. Progress is not a constant forward motion; it comes in fits and starts. This is the case with creating effective lesson plans, learning how to drive, sustaining a romantic relationship, or launching a dramatically revamped teachers’ resource website.
If you’ve got an example of flawed perfection that worked well for you in your classroom, we’d love to hear it.