Sunday, December 19, 2010


          Last week I set up a six-foot tall basketball net for two of my third graders. Six feet seems to be that magical height between a “real” dunk and a pretend dunk when you are 48 inches tall.  It’s funny, without any prompting, every time I have set up this hoop in the last nine years, the first thing my students do before trying to dunk is figure out who they want to “be” (this was a much simpler decision when Michael Jordan was playing). 

         This is serious business and there is a lot of heat in these discussions[1][2]. Eventually my students settle on characters that seem to best fit their own temperaments and for a brief moment in time they transform into the tattooed aerial artist that reside in the NBA.

         Choosing someone to emulate is a very natural piece of being a child. They do it intrinsically in their play. In my classroom I have tried to build upon this and shape it into a life skill. We spend a lot of time thinking about how to chose role models in a unit I call “Heroes”. As is so often the case, what we teach children is a powerful analog for what we, as adults, should keep practicing. We are never too old to learn from the masters (even if the masters are eight years old). So this week I have given myself an assignment; look around, listen carefully, see if there are people out there that I might want to emulate. Turns out heroes are everywhere - even snoring softly next to you as you toss and turn and agonize about the future and the impending financial doom that lurks around the next billing cycle.


[1] This year, with so many great Celtics to chose from, it rarely comes to blows, but I do feel sorry for those kids in New York fighting over the one ray of light in an otherwise dismal line up.
[1] Did I mention that I am a Celtics fan, living in Cambridge, MA and that the rest of my family are New Yorkers  :-p

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