The Kids are Amar’e
I saw what you wrote in Noyz…
by Sam Rubenstein / @samrubenstein
I got my new issue of SLAM in the mail, with Derrick Rose on the cover, and I see that I have been called out in NOYZ. OK Ben, shots fired! Brad Long and Shannon Booher got it too. I don’t really know Brad, and the last time I saw Shannon was in the poker room at Vegas all-star 2007, and I assume he is still at that same table.
Ben is right though, I’ve been too far off the radar. My last contribution to SLAMonline was when I had my 9th graders write sentences about Amar’e Stoudemire for the Top 50 NBA Players list. The summary of their writing was basically that Amar’e is a great basketball player and an even greater guy, with a wide array of interests, and he cares about them, the children, our future.
BUT WHY ARE THE KNICKS STILL NO GOOD?!? Next lesson for the 9th grade: you can be the nicest person with all the talent, the coolest tats and wacky glasses and outfits, but it’s a results world people.
Now here is a list of other fun sports and entertainment related things I have been working on with them.
I run the “Music studio” club, which I originally wanted to have as a guitar club, but I was made to believe, and felt that your stereotypical urban Brooklyn public school kid would not be interested in guitar. I have uncovered three guitarists so far: the mowhawked metalhead who is also the happiest smiling 10th grader and his idea for an album is “Patriotism is Cool!”, the old soul who wants to learn AC/DC and Led Zeppelin songs but still has not learned how to chew with his mouth closed, and the indy folk girl, who is a school favorite and I hope to sign to a 10 album deal.
But that’s not how you get the #1 club, which is my musical creation lab. It’s right after lunch, so all hell breaks loose every time. They come in the room, they brag about who can rap, then they get scared to record, then one kid uses virtual DJ for a while, then they all make fun of each other, then they do the Dougie, then with 8 minutes left the most creative quiet kid in the school unleashes a masterpiece.
I have tried to teach music theory, such as “Drums first, then melody, harmony, lyrics, then the gunshot noises and sirens.” They jump right to stealing someone else’s beat and overloading it with gunshots and sirens. I also have rules about no cursing, no drug references, no violence and so forth.
Our first class song is called something like “Chicks with the pink pistols.” Um… still working to change all that.
On the sports side of things, a while ago I wrote about how teaching is coaching, and we all fall under the same archetypes that NBA coaches do. When I was student teaching, I was Rick Adelman, with the bewildered look in the midst of utter chaos, and the sense that a historic and horrific collapse was unfolding on my watch, and could not be prevented. My goal is still to get to the Phil Jackson level, where I have so much respect, I can just be as weird as I want and mess with their minds by giving them books they will never read, making some bizarre analogy, reminding them about what a legend I am, and then sitting back and never calling timeouts or waking up until the playoffs.
For now, I hate to say it, but I am D’Antoni. My classes are fun like high scoring games with lots of threes and head-scratching statistical oddities (Kevin Love). I have some original ideas, but we don’t play any defense, meaning we don’t work our fundamentals like we should. It ends up with a lot more yelling than you’d think. Still working on all that. To quote Dwyane Wade “IT’S A PROCESS PEOPLE, LEAVE ME ALONE!!!”
You may remember Nasir from the Amar’e top 50 sentences. He wanted to know how Amar’e could be ranked higher than Rondo. There is something about this student that seems familiar to me, and as I was writing this post it hit me. He is Allen Iverson and I am Larry Brown.
Now that is a SCARY thought. There was a time when I, as a SLAM editor, was so pro-player and anti-authority, that I thought the dress code post-Malice was uncalled for and throwing the proverbial band-aid on cancer.
Now, I am the one keeping track of which students are out of dress code, making them pull up their pants, and letting them know they won’t be going on any field trips, as I crush their little hearts and souls. So this is that maturity I hear so much about that all these young athletes are missing.
Another fun sports analogy I use with students is for all my 2K11 players. Yes, I am deep into the game with a created superstar. Sam Rubenstein is a 6’7” 3 point specialist, who was traded to the Lakers, and now fights with Kobe for shots, and has to practically stalk Ron Artest and beg him for dribble handoffs so he won’t take stupid threes. If you are familiar with the game, you know you begin with no skills, and a rating of 40 I believe. I tell the kids that’s what they are, that in academic terms, they are raw rookies that can’t shoot, dribble, pass, dunk, run, jump, have their bags carried for them, etc. and my job is to get them to be starters or maybe even All-Stars. Not easy!
I teach an elective called “Best Sellers” where we study the best selling musical artists, movie stars, and authors. Last Friday was fun. I had to convince my students that Kanye and Jay-Z are not Freemasons, but I couldn’t do it. The conversation ended with someone asking me a question “Don’t you think it’s hypocritical of him to be all spiritual in his music when he’s really a devil worshipper?” I have tried to convince them otherwise, but I am failing. Oh well.
Speaking of ancient conspiracies, there is one class I teach, my honors section, where I feel like Eric Spoelstra with the great Riley-tilians watching over me. These kids are smart and talented, and if they don’t figure things out soon, they are going to send me off to spend more time with my family.
Also I am waiting to use the line “You are the Chris Bosh of this class!” to one young underachieving man.
I would like to now close this post out, and I wish it had a coherent beginning, middle, and ending, but I woke up at 5:30 this morning and I taught four hour long classes of how to do citations from the same short story, and the most relaxing part of my day was the mercy fire drill at the end of the day. Good-bye.