“There is no success without hardship.” Sophocles – Hardship
What does it take to succeed?
Going through hard times is something most everybody has to do. Some people face hardship and turn away. They become discouraged and think that success is unattainable. Others see hardship as an opportunity for self-motivation, goal-setting and a fresh re-evaluation of values. Students must determine whether to see hardship as a barrier or an opportunity, and accept the consequences underlying the choices they make.
Join Steve and Dan Fouts for an unforgettable conversation about hardship using the Teach Different 3-Step Method.
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Steve Fouts: 0:04
Hey everybody, Steve and Dan Fouts here. We are teaching different with Greek playwright Sophocles with a quote about hardship. “There is no success without hardship.” Hardship is referring to extreme suffering that some people go through. Students are going through things at different ages while they’re in school, and some are experiencing very difficult circumstances at home, with their health, or being bullied. It’s in the eyes of the beholder what cruelty and suffering are, but it’s definitely something that the students can relate to. This quote is bridging that idea with success.
Dan Fouts: 1:08
I think the idea of hardship applies now with the Coronavirus. We have an entire society going through hardship together. I don’t think anyone is used to this. We often talk about certain groups of people in society going through bad times, but now collectively, we’re doing it.
Steve Fouts: 1:31
Individuals have loved ones who are suffering, and some of them are dying because of the virus and they’re not even able to see them in their last few moments. These are very trying times for people.
Dan Fouts: 1:51 – Claim
Yeah, very much so. I think that what Sophocles is saying here, his claim, is there is no success without hardship. He’s putting a primacy to suffering, as an indispensable part of becoming successful in life. You have to go through hard times to be something in your life, which is an interesting way of thinking of it. It’s a very positive spin, I guess you could say, on hardship itself.
Steve Fouts: 2:28
I think of perseverance. We have a couple of really good conversations on perseverance, one by Winston Churchill. The price of success is suffering. If you don’t go through something difficult, then when you achieve something, it’s not truly an achievement, it’s not truly success.
Dan Fouts: 2:57
Yeah. I think you could go right to the Coronavirus example here with the students to bring out this idea. Ask them to talk about a time when they went through hardship, like right now? How would they see success out of what’s happening right now? You’re in the middle of suffering. How could you look to the future and see success as a result of what you’re experiencing right now? That might be an interesting thing for kids to reflect on to get them to see the positive amidst the negative.
Steve Fouts: 3:39
Absolutely. Think about a counterclaim, though. What would you say a counterclaim is to this quote?
Dan Fouts: 3:48 – Counterclaim
Well, you could say you don’t have to go through extreme suffering to succeed. I think of students who are born to privileged families who are very supportive, and have financial wherewithal. They have a lot of advantages from the very beginning. Many of those students get into great colleges, get good grades, and education is modeled at home. So, it seems like they gain success, but don’t really experience that much hardship.
Steve Fouts: 4:28
Sure. Another example would be of a studious student, who works hard. Hard work is different from hardship. You’re not suffering when you’re doing hard work in the same way that I think Sophocles is talking about. But, hard work can bring success and achievement and it can bring that appreciation of having to go through something before you succeed. It isn’t dire or serious, but it’s hard work. I think that’s a fair counterclaim.
Dan Fouts: 5:06
Yeah, and to push the kids into this conversation a little more, maybe you get them to talk about a time when they had success with something that didn’t require much hardship at all. Ask if the success had less meaning because they didn’t go through hard times.
Steve Fouts: 5:30
Yeah, or did you appreciate the success? It can be hard to know when you’ve succeeded, whether it has more or less meaning, but I think that’s a fair question. I think considering the more you have to overcome, the more you might actually appreciate success, is an important idea.
Dan Fouts: 5:51
For students who may have had easier successes in life without hardship, they might learn from the kids who talk about some of their hardships, and develop more of an empathy with those students. So, that’s a good way to bridge a gap in understanding amongst people in class.
Steve Fouts: 6:17 – Essential Question
Well, here’s an essential question that you can use to wrap up the conversation and create some space for the students to reflect on this idea of success and hardship. Do you have to suffer to be successful?
Dan Fouts: 6:34
Curriculum wise, other than a conversation about the Coronavirus outbreak, which would be great for this, because the suffering is on such a broad scale. Do you have to go through something like this crisis in order to be successful later?
Steve Fouts: 7:00
That would challenge them to think about this society as a whole in the community. How we’re all benefiting by going through the same thing together.
Dan Fouts: 7:11
That would be an interesting reflective exercise, after the conversation. I’m also thinking about bringing this into a social science, history, or English literature course. You can choose a character from a novel (or from history) that had to suffer, before becoming successful. There are a whole host of examples. We love the hero’s story. Most heroes that we learn about had to go through suffering in order to achieve what they did. Any story that follows the arc of someone’s development where they had to go through hard times before they realized what their potential was, would be great for this.
Steve Fouts: 8:03
We hope you enjoyed Sophocles and hardship this week. Make sure you visit our Conversation Library where we have many conversations like this, each with a different quote, a sample claim, counterclaim, and an essential question to get you started.
So, take care everybody. We will see you soon.
Dan Fouts: 8:32
Alright, see you soon.