When I first heard the murmurs about Ted Lasso, Apple TV’s breakout comedy hit, it barely made a blip on my viewing radar. The simple premise — a small-time American football coach from Kansas hired to coach a premiere English soccer league — sounded cute but not my bag. When people started raving about it and every single one of my friends said they LOVED it with full caps and an abundance of exclamation points, I felt compelled to see what all the fuss was about. The first episode left me feeling lukewarm. By the end of the second episode, I went full binge. By the last episode, I was smiling through happy tears while riding a wave of Lasso love.
But for me, the show resonates on a more profound level than simple fandom. It confirms my belief that sending my children to Citizen’s of the World, a public charter school that fully embraces the Lasso way in its commitment to inclusion and social-emotional learning, is perhaps one of the best decisions I’ll ever make as a parent.
Bold statement I know, but I’m convinced that If you can teach children how to navigate the complexity of their emotions early on, you are not only setting them up for success but also encouraging them to approach success and “winning” from a different perspective.
In an early episode Ted says to a cynical reporter, “For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.” This philosophy is the heart of the show and why people have embraced it with such rapture. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a funny show and the stellar performances by Sudeikis and his supporting cast are pitch-perfect, but that’s not why people love Ted Lasso. I believe they love it because it’s a show about love, empathy, and compassion. What it truly means to love your fellow man. Ted loves people, selflessly, tirelessly, and without ego even when they make it clear they have no love for him. His commitment to coaching and coaxing every person who crosses his orbit to embrace social-emotional development and a growth mindset is glorious to behold. While watching it you can’t help but wonder what a world full of Ted Lassos or little Ted Lassos would look like. After a year full of fear, divisiveness, and a deadly virus, the idea of someone spreading unconditional love feels almost revolutionary.
Ted’s not perfect by any means. He is the definition of fallible, but watching him navigate his emotions is admirable. When he loses his temper he apologizes with sincerity. When Rebecca, his boss, (SPOILER ALERT) confesses that she hired him hoping he would fail, he allows himself a moment to process and then forgives her, truly forgives her. It’s a shocking moment for Rebecca and the audience. Most people, or rather most adults, were never given the skill set to process and regulate their emotions in such a healthy, mature way, so watching a quiet scene about forgiveness in a world saturated with conflict on and off the screen can feel topsy-turvy.
Fortunately, the old ways of emotional arrested development are shifting as schools like CWC step up and commit to the whole child approach to education versus an old school concentration on strict academics.
I will admit I was skeptical when I first heard CWC pitch their philosophy. Whole child approach? Social-emotional learning? I couldn’t help question if this was just a slick marketing tool in a shiny brochure and business as usual in the actual classroom, but overseeing my children’s virtual education this past year has made me a believer.
From week to week, I’ve listened to CWC teachers not only teach classes dedicated solely to SEL, but I’ve also seen it integrated directly into lessons and curriculum. I’ve also witnessed the results. From frustration and anger to sadness and joy, my children label their feelings with ease and can communicate their needs in ways they weren’t able to articulate before. When they see unkind behavior, they are quick to point it out. Depending on the situation, they are learning to apologize as well as forgive and forget. Not always and not always with ease but the seed has been planted and will continue to grow along with their brains.
Like Ted Lasso, CWC believes in coaching their students to be the best versions of themselves in and out of the classroom, and as a parent, that is a goal I’m thrilled to stand up and cheer for.
This post was written by Kristine Eckert. Kristine is a writer, unscripted television producer/director and the proud mama of two CWC West Valley unicorns.