Tales from the Classroom #007
Redskins’ sources say the coach personally broke down the game tape with the quarterback. When they were finished assessing the Chargers game, George told the coach that he played as well as he can possibly play.
–Chris Mortensen on ESPN.com in 2001
This is a blast from the past. When it happened, I was upset that then-Washington head coach Marty Schottenheimer didn’t give quarterback Jeff George another chance. George had a great arm, I thought. He was way better than plenty of starters in the NFL, I thought. Why not give him another shot? Why didn’t anybody else give him another chance?
Now, as a teacher, I know. Sometimes, some people are uncoachable. Now, I’m not saying that George was like that. The stories penned by many football journalists implied that, including the one above. I don’t know George or anyone involved personally, nor have I talked to any of them. That’s what’s been suggested or implied based on what writers have written.
In some ways, this story is similar to Tales from the Classroom #006 that I’d posted some time ago. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Anyway, I had this student. Let’s call him Shawn.*
*The name has been changed to protect the student’s identity.
I would tell Shawn, “All right, Shawn. Make sure you come on time moving forward. Class starts at 9:00, not 9:09.” His response? “I’m trying my best already,” he would retort. No, it’s not a traffic thing or commute issue. He lived about eight minutes away on foot. However, he chose to wake up every morning at 8:55, change, and rush to school.
He never brushed his teeth – it was obvious. You could smell it standing close to him.
I explained to him that you have to develop a good habit, wake up early, as it affects your future career, etc. It was in one ear, out the other. Now, I’m not talking about a child or teenager here. The guy was 26 years old.
“I’m teaching you to develop strong habits,” I would say.
“I have 10 minutes to be here. I don’t need to be here at 9:00,” he would say, referring to the school’s rule of allowing students a 10-minute window to arrive because of traffic. The 10-minute window is not for people who are lazy. And Shawn was exploiting the rule due to his laziness.
I would tell him to create a title and double-space anything that was to be handed in. I would remind the class every time. I even had a package that I handed out detailing examples of this. Every time he handed in his assignment, those two things were “forgotten.”
Now, we’re not talking about a learning disability. Shawn simply didn’t care. And it doesn’t matter how patient you are, his stubbornness was something he refused to change. It was nearly impossible to teach him.
He would say, “I’m better than [name of one of his classmates],” or “I don’t need to [care] about [whatever the feedback was].” To me, not caring about constructive criticism is like you want to be mediocre. To constantly compare yourself to others, as I’d written in the past, is not the way to improve yourself.
When he received a low grade for the term, he was “angry,” (his words). He thought that if he paid for the course, he was a customer and should receive royal treatment.
The more I taught Shawn, the more I thought about the football example.
Then I realized… it’s true. Some people, unfortunately, can’t be coached. In life, that’s just the way it is.