Debate Magazine

Playing Catch

By Stevemiranda

I’ve always been a big sports fan.

When I was a teenager, I remember watching a post-game interview with New York Yankees pitcher Jimmy Key, who had just tossed a complete game shutout against the Texas Rangers. The sports reporter was asking him about crucial 9th inning an at-bat against Texas slugger Jose Canseco that had eventually resulted in a strikeout for Key.

He said something like this: “I got one strike on him. So with the second pitch, I put it two inches off the outside edge of the plate to see if he would swing at it. He chased after it and missed, so with the next pitch I put it four inches outside. He swung and missed, and we won the game.”

I remember thinking, two inches. Two inches is really small! A pitcher stands 60-feet-6-inches away from home plate. The notion that he was able to place the ball in the catcher’s mitt with such precision, with such a microscopic a margin of error, was simply incredible to me.

* * *

My favorite writer about writing is John Gardner, whose legendary text The Art of Fiction had a major impact on me. I was trying to communicate to students in my writing class about the importance of a notion Gardner calls “the fictional dream.” Fine writing, Gardner argues, should never be so clumsy as to wake students from the fictional dream. He writes,

“Readers sensitive to the virtues of good fiction can be distracted from the fictional dream by subtler kinds of mistakes. One of these is faulty rhythm. Many writers, including some famous ones, write with no consciousness of the poetic effects available through prose rhythm.”

I created a lesson plan that dealt with the poetic effects available through prose rhythm. I was really excited. Students and I were writing and then deconstructing sentences, and analyzing the syllables of each word.

With about 10 minutes left in class, I stopped to look at the class, and they were all just sort of staring at me. They were 15 years old, and I was trying to deliver a graduate level English lesson.

I paused my lesson and told the students the story of Jimmy Key. I said, “I get the feeling that I’m trying to teach you how the place the ball precisely two inches off the outside edge of the plate, and all you really want to do is play catch.” They all nodded.

* * *

One of the problems with required academics is that kids end up in classes with teachers who are pushing them to attain a level of mastery that’s meaningless to them. Kids who are 15 or 16 years old simply haven’t been alive long enough to have use for organic chemistry, calculus, knowledge of the Spanish-American War, and the poetic effects available through prose rhythm. In order to please the adults in their lives—including the admissions officers at prestigious universities—they plow through all this material. But in my 10 years as a classroom teacher, it was never clear to me that students were actually learning as much as they were working.

Middle and high school should be about “playing catch”—PSCS founder Andy Smallman calls it “dipping their toe in the water to see if it feels warm”—so students can see if they’re drawn to a particular area of study. If they like it, we can them provide them with opportunities to pursue it in greater depth.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Shilo Sanders- Son Of Deion Sanders Thanks Courts For Allowing Him To Live With...

    Shilo Sanders- Deion Sanders Thanks Courts Allowing Live With Pilar

    ChristianNews Shilo Sanders, the son of NFL Hall of Famer,  Deion Sanders took to twitter to “thank” the courts for allowing him to live with his mother, Pilar... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Firstladyb
  • “I Feel Great”

    Feel Great”

    Jakub went to his doctor's office believing that he had a back injury, but returned with a chocking diagnosis instead. He had type 2 diabetes - in spite of... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Dietdoctor
  • July Allotment Recap (2/2)

    July Allotment Recap (2/2)

    Sunday afternoon saw us return bravely to 24a even though there were more thundery showers foretold by the weatherman. I will admit that I guffawed at the... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Chrryblossomtat2
  • Culinary Delicacies in Croatia- What to Eat and Drink in Croatia

    Culinary Delicacies Croatia- What Drink Croatia

    In my earlier post, we spoke about how Croatia is a stunning European destination, let us now see what are the culinary delicacies in Croatia or what you can... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Kash Pals
  • #Golf Training Aids Spotlight: The Delta Putt

    #Golf Training Aids Spotlight: Delta Putt

    Do you consider yourself to be a strong putter or do you feel you could improve your make percentage on the green? Most amateurs could use help with the flat... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Golfforbeginners
  • Three Incredible Hikes in Southern Iceland3 Min Read

    Three Incredible Hikes Southern Iceland3 Read

    Nature takes center stage in Iceland, where there's a stunning view around every bend: massive glaciers, expansive lava fields, powerful waterfalls, black sand... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Healthytravelblog
  • What I Wore: Daytime Pajamas

    What Wore: Daytime Pajamas

    Pajama top: ELOQUII (14) | Pajama pants: ELOQUII (14) | Shoes: ASOS (similar) | Earrings: J. Crew ( same in different colors, similar concept in same color) |... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Wardrobeoxygen