At the start of this week, I used the New York Times Student Opinion essay “What Should Be Done About the Gender Pay Gap in Sports?” to spark discussion and challenge student thinking.
In one particular class period, students were furiously opinionated about whether or not females athletes on our campus are given the same respect and clout as the male athletes. Then the art and theater students started to speak up about sports receiving all the attention and the lack of funding and prioritizing/promotion.
A student piped up to say, “I think we don’t value art because we don’t see the work they put in. Like, with football and other sports, we’re watching them put in the work and we see the prize at the end. With art and stuff like that, we just see their product, move on, and…” *shrugged shoulders*
This comment has stayed with me because I’d never considered it before. How often do I read a book and have a nearly spiritual experience? How often do I come across a poem that moves me so deeply I want to commit it to memory? How often do I copy down a quote in my Keep app only to revisit it over and over again?
I rarely think about the labor. The tears that may have fallen. The pain that may have led to that book. The beauty that may have led to that poem. The discovery that may have led to that quote. I benefit from consuming the prize at the end. But my student is right; I rarely think about the labor of someone else persisting, stitching bits and pieces together to create unfathomable works.