Ball as the Mother of Invention

Using a Ball for Descriptive Writing

A mom and her son arrived at my classroom after school ended. The youngster of 12 or 13 refused to write. He was attending a prestigious and expensive private school. So, we went to work. I used all my best techniques. None remotely succeeded. We were both frustrated. I knew his brother was a basketball star at their high school, so I correctly assumed that my student knew how to play the game. To change the energy, I challenged him to a basketball game. Outside my classroom door was a court. I grew up in New York City and basketball was a favorite game. But I wasn’t going to win with skill. That would be too easy. And, it would make him feel worse than he already did. I decided to play a little dirty and get him to express his emotions. I gave him what is called a hip check–which impedes the player’s progress when dribbling towards the basket. This is normally a foul in a refereed game. He naturally got upset with me and called me a cheater; just what I was hoping for.

“How does that make you feel”

“I’m angry,” he shot back.

“Okay. What else?” And on a small pad I carried with me, I started writing down the words he described. And he realized that writing could express what he was feeling inside. And the spell for his hatred of writing was broken.