Monday, November 28, 2016

Plimptoniphany?

I live near a library and enjoy grazing the shelves in search of serendipitous reading opportunities. This M.O. led to me spending Thanksgiving with George Plimpton's Paper Lion, a literary journalistic account of the author's try-out with the NFL's Detroit Lions in 1963. (The book was reissued this year with other Plimpton titles.)

A passage I came across today on page 230 provided grist for blogging -- not to mention my first foray into the nascent world of #booksnaps. Here it is:


(Fret not, book protectors, I didn't mark up the library's copy; that's all digital post-production.) Plimpton writes these paragraphs as scene setters. He's about to take the field, following weeks of practice, to quarterback five actual plays in a Lions scrimmage in Pontiac, Michigan.

Reading this, my teaching sensibilities tingle. It's the precise feeling I want my students to kindle in themselves. Even as they harbor doubts, I crave for them to feel like great readers and writers: looking and acting those parts; committing to their preparation; faking it (if they must) en route to making it; belonging, ultimately.

For his part, the author of Paper Lion makes an inauspicious gridiron debut (-29 yards of offense in just five plays). He does, though, learn plenty about himself and stretch beyond any conceivable comfort zone. That's a Plimptonic ideal to which my students and I ought to aspire, I figure.


11 comments:

  1. great post! I love that you took a part from a book an analyzed it thoroughly! Makes me proud :)

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  2. What a great piece to share with your students. It's was difficult for me to conceive that a football player would feel this way because I vision them as fearless. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the snippet. ~Amy

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    1. The beauty of the tale: Plimpton was a journalist and editor who took a participatory stance towards his subject. He was decidedly *not* a football player -- as he lays out in the opening chapters.

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  3. Nice connection between Plimpton and your students, and how we all need entries into what we hope to become ...
    Kevin

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  4. Great post! I'm an avid reader, but I usually read fiction because I'm an author, too and reading and writing go hand in hand, don't they?

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  5. Hmmm.. I'm back as a kid (in your class) thrilled to be reading with you.
    Bonnie K.

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  6. Wonderful post. I think sometimes the kids just expect it to happen. I like the idea of telling them to "fake it" until they feel like they really embody it.

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  7. I enjoyed hearing Plimpton's words again, years later. Definitely a good reminder, fake it, 'til you make it! That is exactly the same feeling I want my students to have about writing. Just keep doing it!

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  8. "#booksnap" is a new one for me. I love it! Thanks for demonstrating.

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  9. Couldn't agree more--we need to use the word "feel" (in italics) more often when we talk about teaching and learning. Well, if we are talking about education that impacts students!

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  10. Fresh off of my winter concert, I hope that my students felt this same pride and confidence on stage as they played "Twinkle Twinkle". On a very literal note, I am reminded of why we dress up for concerts...how important it is to have an audience...and why all of that is an integral part of my class!

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