Education is important, but big biceps are importanter.
On Friday last week, I was waiting while my daughter worked through her session with our wonderful personal trainer. He was asking her about her back, about dragon boating and so on — the usual.
I suggested he ask her how many times she had completed the ‘at home’ program he had written up for her the previous week (knowing full well the answer was zero); but he was one step ahead of me, commenting that teenagers never did their programs at home.
As a dutiful mother, I proceeded to comment (i.e. make excuses) about the amount of homework she had and the fact it was taking up all her time (I didn’t mention the time management issues, or the frequent ‘discussions’ about procrastination).
This is when he came out with the following beauty: “What’s more importanter …”
At this point we both rudely interrupted with laughter — importanter!! (Yes, we know you always bag out your hometown for its bogan-ness and lack of education … but really, ‘importanter’?)
Luckily he continued, “No, it’s a real thing … what’s more importanter, education or big biceps?”
Instantly loving this, “I’m going to have to write about this on my blog, you know,” I said.
So, it turns out, after a little googling, this quote is a real thing. I have no idea who said it originally, but there are posters, t-shirts and memes everywhere with variations of the quote, the most common being the one at the top of this post.
I love the word importanter.
Firstly, it rolls off the tongue beautifully. I could say it all day: importanter, importanter, importanter. And, it sounds like it should be a word (unless you say it too many times in a row, then, as with any word on repeat, it just sounds weird and wrong).
But, more importanter is that it fits so well with the quote. Clearly, big biceps are more valuable than education in the speaker’s world, given that his (or her) grammar is so poor.
In all seriousness though, the quote got me thinking — if I had to choose between the two, and I could only make one choice, which one would I go for?
This is a harder choice than I initially anticipated.
As a teacher, and a passionate advocate for life-long learning, you would think ‘education’ would be my no-brainer choice. After all, who wants big biceps? Huge biceps just look wrong and, more importanter, they make it incredibly difficult to find shirts to fit. (I only suspect this, not ever having had huge biceps. Batwings, yes, but they tend to fold up and tuck in nicely.)
However, if we take big biceps to be a representative of strength and fitness, then that changes everything.
I was never obsessed by the gym. I went to PT sessions twice a week, trained on the water 1-3 times a week, did a bit of boxing at home and went to the occasional MEGA class — but in no way was I in the class of those fitness freaks who exercise for 90 plus minutes, twice a day, every day.
But not being able to exercise (or participate in the sport I love) properly, or at all, for the last 4 months has really changed my perspective. It is awful. I feel like crap. My clothes don’t sit right. I have blobby bits on top of the original blobby bits. And, I hate the fact I can’t walk up the little hill from the carpark to the oncologist’s office without stopping several times and needing to sit and recuperate for 10 minutes when I finally make it. (Yes, I know there are other things at play here, but it all ties in with the ‘rapid decline in fitness’ picture I am trying to paint.)
My point is, a lack of fitness seriously affects my mindset and my sense of wellbeing, which in turn affects what I do each day and, I believe, the quality of my learning. I haven’t actually looked, but if I did a bit of an analysis on my writing while I was able to exercise, versus when I am not feeling good about myself (because I physically feel like a blobby marshmallow) I would be willing to bet the difference would be noticeable.
The other thing I have long advocated, as a teacher, is the power of exercise in affecting the quality of student work and the intensity of their output. One prime example (and I believe I have written about this before) came from a Year 6 class I had a few years ago. At the time, we had a 2-hour block in the morning which, according to our school plan, was supposed to be dedicated to literacy. At some point, I began to take my class out for P.E. for the first half hour of this block, defying our executive. I got ripped for this, but kept going because those kids got through twice as much quality work in 90 minutes than they did in 120 minutes. The power of exercise, and oxygen to the brain, is amazing.
So, education or big biceps?
Education is important, there is no doubt about that. But without big biceps the quality of education is going to suffer.