Re[4]: The Anecdote & the Educator

Marty Henry (
Thu, 16 Apr 98 16:56:24 -0700

Thanks for your responses. It's a rough row to hoe when you have
competing purposes. I'm certain you have worked through this the best
you can with a group as challenging as this can be! Keep us informed
of solutions that seem to work.


______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Re[2]: The Anecdote & the Educator
Author: <> at Internet-Mail
Date: 4/16/98 11:16 AM

Marty: Great observations. I'll do what I can to answer them . . .

-- Maybe I missed a point, but why were you so concerned that the
games=20have an even score?"

Frankly, I couldn't care less about the score. But when the kids on the
losing team started complaining loudly, and then lost interest, I decided to
restore some balance.

-- If the girls complained about the lop-sided score,=20
could you have problem solved with them about why the scores weren't even?
If they realized that it was a result of their own choices, they would have

had the opportunity to remedy that solution the next time they chose. If it

didn't make a difference in their choice and the score was again uneven,
they would understand why and would be able to understand that they wanted
to play with their friends and your need for the score to be even was
yours, not theirs."

Marty: Exactly my thinking! Each week I went over the prior week's fiasco
with the kids, received their assurance that they indeed preferred even
games to blowouts, and strategized with them about how simple (so I
thought) the remedy could be. (Incidentally this is a gifted program, and
these students quite capably -- and willingly-- speak their minds!) And
each week I'd watch with increasing amazement as the girl captain chose her
best friends, realizing full well (unless she or her friends were gifted
athletically) that she was probably dooming her team to defeat. Since I
didn't have space in my earlier post to include it, here's the description
of how the final scene played out (including my own frustration):

"Next Tuesday, I was determined to avoid the last week's disaster
"Anyone who wants to be captain has to agree not to pick his, or her,
friends first. Choose a couple of the best players, then choose your
friends. That way the teams will be even and the game will be more fun."
(Heads nod in agreement.)

"I looked into the knot of hands wagging in front of me: "William!
Molly! Call it in the air." Molly won the toss and chose first. Or tried to
choose. Two sets of wide, pleading eyes riveted themselves Molly as she
passed up Amanda, then Karen, her two closest buddies =96 th= ey
were more or less inseparable and moved down the line to where Catey and
Nick stood, the two strongest kickers in the class. Molly looked from Nick
to Catey, then back again, conspicuously avoiding Amanda and Karen who were
pleading with her from the other end of the line to choose them for her
team: "Molly, Molly, please, please . . ."

"Molly's jaw tightened. "Molly," I pressed. "We don't have much time."
She let loose a long sigh and, and looking directly at Nick, blurted:

Before I could open my mouth, Karen shot across the white line and into
Molly's arms. They embraced like wartime refugees after an unspeakably long

"Nick!" William said it with a wide grin on his face.

"Amanda!" Molly exploded. She was out of control. The three girl
friends locked themselves into each others arms, and held on as though their
ship was going down in frigid waters. Molly filled out the rest of her doomed
team, the three girls holding fast to each other, undaunted by the prospect of
looming defeat.

"I didn't say a word, dumbstruck by how powerful the drive for
relationship . . ."

Molly did want to win, and she well understood what the game's outcome
would probably be if she chose both her friends first. Yet her need for her
friends -- for "connection" -- apparently overpowered her better judgement.
That was when I realized I was seeing the depth and force of the need for
"connection," something I hadn't understood before, and then I started to
see versions of it everywhere I looked, among the women faculty at the
school, as well as among the girls themselves . I'm still processing it all
. . .

-- Your strategy of two boy and two girl captains was interesting. What was the
response of the group when you did that?

We strategized before I did it. I tried out a little Gilligan (whom I
was inhaling at the time), pointing out that girls and boys (generally
speaking) sometimes see things differently. The way they play their games
is one of them. When I made it clear that we would scupously alternate the
week's capatains, soas to be fair, they had no problem with the concept. As
I said, I've done it for a few years now, and it at least solved one
particular problem.

-- Why did you decide to switch these players after the score became
uneven? Was it your need or theirs?

When you've got several gifted 11-year-olds yelling more or less in
unison at you in the middle of a kickball game, "Mr F. This game stinks!!",
it's hard to know whose interests your most serving at the time.
Appaently, both.

Tim Wrote:
So I let go. Surprisingly, I didn't feel the least defeated when =
I had to switch a couple of players later in in the game in order to even out
the sides. They groaned as usual, but it didn't bother me this time. I think I
was still a little awestruck."


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