I love to play cricket. I’m not particularly good, mind you, but I love it anyway. Being a park amateur at best means that my game has always needed work and the pull shot is something I always struggled with. So a coach told me to watch Ricky Ponting play the pull shot.
Ricky Ponting is the best exponent of the pull shot … ever. His timing is impeccable, his movement poetic and his fear non-existent. I look like a frightened panda trying to swat away a wasp when playing the pull shot.
There’s a lesson here. The leap from my level to Ponting’s is too large. Further, the tools I have to replicate Ponting’s technique are just not in my armoury. I have different tools. As a much larger man than Ponting, the intention should never have been to imitate him – it should have been just to be inspired by him, but to find my own way of doing it. Using my muscle and not my grace has proven my path to pull shot improvement. In many many ways, I’m the opposite of Ricky Ponting … and that’s ok.
So, be a composer and a creator before you fall for being an imitator. And this concept applies directly to classroom practice.
There’s a distinct laziness, anyway, in imitation. It’s devoid of the very adventurous and risk-taking spirit that we wish to instill in our students when we encourage them not to copy and to “just have a go”.
You don’t have to be like the best Teacher in your school, in your state, in your country or in the world. Just be inspired by them to uncover your own way. When you find what works for you – cultivate it, make it explicit and do it more often. The challenge then is to allow your mastery to be an inspiration to your colleagues.
Composition over imitation is where a healthy deprivatising of your school’s great practice begins.