Last week’s launch of the NFL season provides a timely and compelling way to excite your students about the tools of argument, beginning with this recent Instagram gem brought to my attention by fellow teacher and TpTer T.:
Apparently, the sports world has been abuzz with Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s decision last month to give back his 8- and 6-year-old sons’ participation trophies to the children’s sports league. The public move by Harrison (admittedly not always the greatest role model) renewed interest in the ongoing debate about the benefit/harm created by such trophies, awards, and accolades. This reminds me of the 2012 commencement speech given by English teacher David McCullough Jr. to the graduates of Wellesley High School, when he struck a similar chord by calling into question the selfishness that’s bred when children are raised to believe they are special and unique.
View McCullough’s speech here:
And here’s a companion clip to bring the debate back to Harrison’s point:
Think your students would have opinions about these issues? Oh yeah they will. To help guide a discussion of the McCullough speech, I built a set of questions to get students thinking about not only the way they and their classmates were raised, but also the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of McCullough’s rhetoric. Click here to check out my companion lesson materials.
As for Harrison and his fellow Steelers, I’ll have a whole new reason to watch #92 of the black-and-yellow take the field this Sunday against my San Francisco 49ers; I know my students, too, will love debating Harrison’s points in class and then watching him compete on the gridiron.
Teach on, everyone!