Straight from whatever passed for maths and straight onto the artificial sports pitch where a group of Year 7s had gathered under the watchful eye of nobody in particular. The group looked nothing like a group of sporty kids. They were in a veritable mishmash of sports-leisure wear that stood against the wire fencing in responce to their mundane punishment.
I knew a couple of faces and was able to attach names to them. This way a teacher establishes his/her credibility with the kids. I called one boy Kier.
“I’m Kaden, sir.”
Oh well, everyone is allowed one little mistake.
“I was just checking,” I replied, but the wasn’t convinced.
I spent the rest of the lesson praising his attempts until he finally got bored, wandered off the playing area and sat down to check his phone messages.
The game that I was instructed to instruct the group in was softball. I have played this game, it’s like baseball without the laser-fast pitching and potentially bone-breaking meteor of a ball. The rules are simple:
- Throw the ball
- Hit the ball
Question: It’s a simple rule of three. How simple could anything possible get?
Answer: It would have to be a whole lot simpler if the kids that I was going to teach were to understand it.
First up was team selection. That was reasonably straightforward. The teams were chosen – both teams appeared equally matched – both looked as if they would struggle – let the entertainment begin!
Entertain, they certainly did.
First up was the total misunderstanding of field positions. Have a man on each base. Cover the backstop position. Have somebody pitch the ball. Pitch underhand. Pitch so that the striker has a reasonable chance to reach and strike the ball. There are three chances to hit. When you think that you have hit it hard, or far enough, RUN.
Fielders were expected to stand up rather than sit down. They were asked to chase the ball and then throw it back to the bases of the pitcher or the backstop. Simple? Strangely not.
What followed was comic mayhem. Balls were thrown in the manner of a short-circuiting robot. Swing and miss, swing and miss. Swing and connect, but not realising the connection and remaining still until the teacher’s words of encouragement to run finally percolated through the miasma of confusion. A lack of appreciation that normal softball players run from one base to the next (in order: 1, 2, 3, 4.).
I had not reckoned on the immutable realities of the universe not applying themselves here. But, hey, this was PE being led by an English Literature supply teacher.