This is a simple game...
I’ve been teaching Bull Durham off and on for the past 17 years. Usually, as most of us do, I use it as a way of getting my students to better understand existentialism and the hero’s journey, but recently I've come to realize that it is also very much about writing. This year, that’s the tack I’m taking with it.
You throw the ball.
Writing is about practice. There is no such thing as a natural born writer, just curious minds willing to do hard work. At the beginning of each year, I am faced with a classroom of people who declare, loudly and frequently, that they are not writers. By this point, most of them have come around. They still don’t like writing and they still put off their assignment as long as they can, but they get that, if Dr. Jeter says it loud enough and frequently enough, if they write, they must be writers. This is one of the small victories I will take each year.
You hit the ball.
Getting students to do the writing in a practice-y type manner is really something I am struggling with. I’ve even started playing around with putting a nightly writing prompt out that they have to put into a Google form. It seems diabolical. It seems so mean and manipulative. It seems like I might have to do it. I am an ogre.
You catch the ball.
I’ve got a sophomore this year for picked up Creative Writing and Public Speaking second semester because she decided that study hall and lunch were “a total waste of time.” I know I shouldn’t have these, but she is my favourite. But here’s the deal, she’s not my favourite because she is turning, literally in front of my eyes, into a writer who wants to be a writer (WWWTBW?), but because she likes hard tasks. She likes the struggle! She likes trying and failing and trying again! And as she is doing this, I’ve come to realize she is making me want to be a better writing teacher! It’s like a miracle or something. Of course, I am planning to use her as example for years to come. In the far flung future, teenagers will loathe her and she will never know… She’ll be too busy writing.