Randy loves clichés. Randy says educators shouldn’t shy away from clichés, because oftentimes young people haven’t heard them, and old clichés can sometimes be inspirational. Randy lists off many clichés and their virtues. “Dance with the one who brung you” offers a reminder about loyalty and appreciation. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” has been around for 2,000 years and should last at least another 2,000, Randy believes. “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right,” affirms Randy’s feelings about positivity shaping reality. “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” reiterates Randy’s reminder not to focus on little issues while ignoring major ones.
The cliché “Whether you can or you can’t, you’re right,” directly parallels Randy’s ideas about attitude and positive (but realistic) behavior. Randy’s advice of embracing clichés also corresponds with Randy’s ideas about learning and feedback loops: most clichés have been passed down for generations, and, as such, they often impart universal lessons.
Randy also loves pop culture clichés, including Superman (“Truth, justice, and the American Way”), Rocky (“It’s not how hard you hit. It’s how hard you get hit…and keep moving forward”), and most of all, Randy loves football clichés. Oftentimes, Randy’s computer science students would have trouble adjusting to his football metaphors, but they eventually figured them out. He repeatedly told them to “win one for the Gipper,” to “go out and execute,” to “keep the drive alive,” to “avoid costly turnovers,” and to “win games in the trenches even if they were gonna feel it on Monday.” Randy’s students knew: “It’s not how you win or lose, it’s how you play the cliché.”
The Rocky quotes, as well as all of Randy’s football clichés, harken back to Coach Graham, who taught Randy that it’s important to master the fundamentals, have a good attitude, work hard, and do anything in your power to win. Randy is able to take lessons he learned as a kid and pass them down to his students, which spreads Coach Graham’s feedback to many more people than just Randy and the rest of his team.