Rubber tipped arrows and darts are fun because rubber tips stick to most any smooth, nonporous surface. The elation of drawing the bow or firing the gun includes not only accuracy, but seeing the tip flatten and stick, while making the pleasing splat sound. Increased odds come by adding saliva, either from spitting on the tip or getting some saliva on the finger and rubbing the tip. Licking the tip, however, has a bad taste, and my mother early on declared it unsanitary.
In more inane moments as a kid, entertainment came from simply moistening the tip and manually sticking it to every kind of surface around, then slowly pulling to feel the tension and hear the pop of the release. Even a forehead could collect several darts.
The point is stickability, and teachers look for that. Looking back on my education, the memorable teachers had an indirect way of making me realize later, “I found myself attached.” Rarely was it to the mesmerizing quality of English, math, or history: the attachment was to the living union of the teacher and the subject. Information had personified itself in the marvel of a human being enacting the information, but more than that, getting me to enact it.It’s that last step—getting the student to enact it—that seals things. Modeling a living enactment can still appear remote to students because of fears and experiences a teacher wouldn’t know. All the teacher knows is, “Sam doesn’t connect—he’s not attaching to the subject, me, or both together.”
It’s time for the rubber tipped arrow or dart. If the student isn’t sticking to the subject and me, I might try sticking to the student. This doesn’t mean a rule about forcing engagement or violating boundaries. It simply means discernment of when the student might decide to let an arrow or dart stick. We like it when others keep believing in us when we’ve given them reasonable cause to resort to the purely judicial approach.
Teachers agonize over when to pursue and when to let students go. We’re all rubber tipped and ready to attach to something or someone, but what’s the secret to class taking precedence over other things in a student’s life that could just as easily drop on the priority list?
I don’t say it’s any one thing, or give any guarantee. But a little playfulness sometimes brings back the magic of childhood, and the magic of childhood spills over into stickability as a student sees that getting a little goofy with knowledge can make everyone appear to be the humans that they are.