I don’t know much about basketball, but I know that coach named Phil Harmeson once said about coaching the game, “You can’t teach tall.” I guess he meant you can teach dribbling and ball handling and free-throw shooting and jump shots and surreptitious elbowing. But tall is tall—and no amount of teaching makes a 5’8” kid into a 7’6” NBA superstar.
Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to “teach tall.” I am currently in the middle of grading 18 gazillion technical writing proposals, the major writing assignment of the semester. The paper requires a combination of initiative, creative thinking, problem solving, writing skills, and formatting within business document parameters.
I have corrected some proposals that are absolutely outstanding; I am bursting with pride that the students can perform and produce at such a level. I have also graded some proposals that are humbling and humiliating (me and them). Could they possibly have spent the past 15 weeks in my Technical Writing classes and learned such a tiny little infinitesimal amount about writing?
Is it that I’m a failure as a teacher—or am I just up against the “teaching tall” syndrome? I can have 26 students in a classroom, and some of them just get it and others look at me like I’m from the planet Dorkfreak, speaking in tongues about a concept that they neither know nor want to understand. Hmmm . . . maybe too close to retirement to ever find out the real answer.