Sweat Equity

This is a term a home inspector used when he was talking about some of the things he recommended fixing in the home we were about to (and eventually did) buy. He talked about how it wouldn’t cost a lot to make certain repairs, but would require putting in a little “sweat equity.”

A couple of months later, as I’ve finished painting a couple rooms, moving everything in, organizing my office, working in the yard, making a couple of repairs, and so on, I’ve realized something about “sweat equity.” When we first moved in, it was hard to call this place home, if only because someone else had lived her for years – it wasn’t really our home. However, as I’ve put in some serious sweat equity (weeding the yard alone gives me this feeling), I’ve realized that I’m coming to have a sense of ownership about this place – it’s our home.

Being the relentless workaholic that I am, I started to think about my students, both from last year and my prospective students for next year. I wondered if I’d given them many opportunities to build “sweat equity” in their learning. One opportunity did come to mind – a big research project we did at the end of the year. They picked their topic, researched it thoroughly, wrote a huge paper and did a presentation. They put a lot of sweat equity into topics that they cared about and, not surprisingly, were incredibly proud of them. I’ve heard from other teachers that they would brag about these projects in other classes.

Unfortunately, I think that’s all I can really think of that meets these criteria – they didn’t really put a whole lot of sweat equity into anything else this year. I think that’s something I want to change in the way we do things. I want to see them working relentlessly on something to the point that it becomes their own – to the point that they have a finished product that they are deeply proud of, as I am with our home.


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