You’re pitching this stuff over their heads.

I’ve been told that several times as a teacher, typically by my department head. This is where I tell them why they’re right.

For those who don’t know baseball, the standard analogy goes like this: the students and I are a baseball team. I’m the coach, and it’s time for batting practice. I lob the pitches in, they hit them. As they become more experienced hitters, I pitch faster, they hit harder. Sometimes they miss. If I’m pitching over their heads, it’s not useful, because you don’t swing at a baseball when it’s over your head. Some people describe it as playing catch rather than batting practice, but you get the gist.

However, I don’t really want to be on a baseball team with my students, much as I love them. My analogy goes differently.

We have a ball, we have gloves, but we’re not playing catch. I’m tossing a ball to them. I’m slowly tossing it higher and higher. First they have to reach for it. Then they have to jump a little for it. Then they have to jump a lot. Then, even if they jump, they can’t get it.

I’m not trying to teach them how to catch. I’m trying to teach them how to fly.


About Colin Fredericks

By day I help to create online courses at HarvardX. By night I write roleplaying games.

Posted on November 9, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Yeah, that’s a comment I get quite a lot of the time, too. The real trick is finding the right curve – if you start with something completely out of reach, the result is simply that everyone involved gets frustrated.

    The rebuttal to your analogy, of course, is that flying is impossible. But I suspect I know how you might respond to that…

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