The Old Ball Game
By ice rivers
One of my colleagues, a guy named Fred, got into as much trouble as I did for having classrooms that were not quiet.
Neither Fred nor I thought the criticism and penalization were justified but we did have "long hair" at the time and we were considered "popular" by the students.
Fred was a great teacher.
Eventually, thank God, the concept of beautiful noise in the classroom began to take hold. Beautiful noise means the kids were buzzing and working with each other and with the teacher. Nothing on earth sounds like productive buzzing.
It was a far cry from the spray and pray method formerly preferred by the fearful badgers of the ruling realm and their supportive administrators.
Quiet in the classroom was no longer a guaranteed good thing.
Suddenly, Mr. Carbone and I were seen as "innovators". People started imitating us and when they got good at it, they began to instruct us on how to do what we had been doing all along, since we had already moved on to the next thing which they were currently against but soon would be imitating and then instructing.
On and on and on and on etc.
Meanwhile, my classes were getting quieter so I was headed for trouble. Quiet is so much quieter when it's surrounded by buzz.
One day Fred and I and about fifty teachers were at a workshop run by a consultant who hadn't taught a public school class in years but who was paid more than we were to look at our watches and tell us what time it was. The consultant was also on the lookout for new ideas which he could steal and profit from when he took his carnival on the road., always searching for a new parade to jump in front of and declare himself the leader etc.
So the consultant called on teachers to "share" new ideas that they had. Most of the "sharing" consisted of ideas that people like Mr. Carbone and I had been criticized for by the same people who were now "experts" at whatever "technique" they were sharing.
The consultant ooohed and aaahed over every "insight" no matter how unremarkable.
Meanwhile, Fred was in the back of the room trying to stay serious.
Fred was a big, dark haired dark eyed handsome guy who wasn't lacking in self confidence and didn't need or want to be drawn into this festival of self congratulation.
Even though Fred hadn't raised his hand to volunteer a response, the consultant decided to call on him.
"Do you have a technique, Fred, that you'd like to share?", the consultant asked in an overly friendly way.
Fred said "Well, I guess I could share what I call 'the old ball game'.
The consultant perked up. "I've never heard of that technique, Fred. It sounds very interesting. How does it work?"
Possibly a new parade was forming.
"Well" said Fred, "if I see a kid's not paying attention, I throw a tennis ball at him/her. That usually gets their attention."
Fred was serious.
I looked at Fred's face. Fred was looking at the consultant's face. The consultant had no idea what to say.
Nobody ooohed or aaahed.
I burst out laughing which broke the silence.(I had used the same "technique" myself" on quire a few occasions except I didn't use a tennis ball. I used a bunch of tinfoil that I had rolled up in a ball for my version of "the old ball game". I called my tin foil ball "the egg of unexpected courage". The kids called it THE EGG.)
Back to the seminar......
Fred started laughing.
The consultant sorta smiled
Once again, Fred and I were operating on the same page even though we weren't aware that we were until Fred answered the consultant. I had no idea that Fred also used "the old ball game".
This is one of my fondest moments because "the old ball game be it tennis or tinfoil" actually worked and probably still does today
I am afraid, however, that a few months after this moment.....some consultant somewhere was instructing teachers on the effective use of what has become known as "the old ball game".