Sunglasses, a Purple Hat… And Other Stuff

by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

 

My eight-year-old grandson wore sunglasses for an entire baseball game yesterday. Not any game, mind you. This was a game that began at 7:00 pm and ended when he knocked in the winning run with a slow roller to the first baseman after 9:00 pm. Hey, it was getting dark. Plus, it was a totally cloudy day that featured sprinkles during warm up. One small glimpse of the sun was never seen.

What’s up with him? Why sunglasses on cloudy day. I probably could have found out by asking. I didn’t. Maybe later. I was busy thinking about myself, reflecting, reminiscing, searching through the memory banks of days gone by when I was that young child addicted to baseball.

I played for the WTCM Jets, a little league team sponsored by the local radio station. We were good. I was adequate. Skill level? OK. Passion for the game? Over the top.
We had uniforms with socks and hats. Hats were blue. What? No! Not blue! I already had a hat. A great hat. There was only one problem. My hat, my favorite hat, my lucky hat, was purple. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

I wore my purple hat to the first game. The coach didn’t like that choice and suggested I change hats. I told him, “It’s my lucky hat. I can hit with this hat. I feel good with it on.” “You’ll be the only one with a different colored hat,” he reminded me. “We need to all look alike. If everyone wore whatever hat they wanted we wouldn’t look like a team.” As a nine-year-old that line of reasoning was wasted on me. This was an emotional issue, not one involving logic. I persisted. I may even have whined.

There is one minor detail in this scenario I have failed to mention so far. The coach was my father. Looking back sixty-four years later, I get it. Of course we all had to wear the same hats. My father was right. But I didn’t understand that then so I continued to lobby for my purple hat.

I found the picture of our team in my attic this morning. There we stood in two rows, tall guys in the back, wearing our uniforms and hats. One guy stood out, the guy wearing the purple hat. I have no idea how my dad explained that to the assistant coach or what other parents might have thought about the coach’s son wearing a different colored hat than everyone else. I understand today what a predicament I created for him. I can easily come up with a variety of applicable reasons for me to be wearing a blue hat.

I wish I could tell you that I had my best batting average ever that season. I did not. My lucky hat didn’t seem to contain a lot of good fortune. I don’t remember what happened to it. I don’t think I wore it much after that baseball season. What I do remember is that I was allowed to be an individual within a team setting. I was treated with respect even as I disrespected the concept of uniform.

So what do sunglasses and purple hats have to do with teaching? It’s about uniqueness and the desire or need to be different.

Do you allow the student who retains the printed word better if she can walk back and forth in the back of the room while holding her book to do that?

Is the student who feels better with his coat on allowed to keep it on in your classroom?

Is it possible for the athlete with a unique home situation permitted to play in games even though he has a tough time making all the practices?

What happens to the student who wants to read about, write about, and talk about birds? Did he get to create and manage a bird corner in your classroom?

What happens if one of your students shows up and wants to participate in your classroom with sunglasses and a purple hat?

 

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