25 years ago a film came out. It was the type of movie that changed lives. It was the type of movie that told us about life, about winning, and about losing. It was the type of movie I watched numerous times and memorized the quotes to. If I hear such a quote now it brings a smile to my face and makes me believe the speaker/writer is a person worthy of respect and surely worth listening to. That movie, of course, was Major League. I am not sure if everyone reading this needs to rush off and watch the movie, but it probably wouldn’t hurt. I don’t think one needs to be a fan of “Colonial Cricket” to follow this post, though. At least, I hope not. Those very familiar with the film might enjoy this list of 15 things you might not know about Major League.
Below I shared some quotes from the movie and valiantly try to match them to some thoughts on ELT. Sorry (not sorry) there are some swears and not very professional stuff below. There are also some potential **spoilers** for a 25 year old movie.
I think this could also be a nice little blog challenge as well. The steps are as follows.
1. Choose a movie.
2. Choose some quotes from that movie. (IMDB works well and supplied all the quotes below) and apply them to teaching and learning and stuff like that.
3. Share it with me and I will link it here.
[Update/Note: In the comments some folks have shared quotes from other movies in the comments. This is also excellent and fun so please feel free to share some quotes and what they might mean for English language teaching.]
From the 2014 collection here is a lovely Breakfast Club inspired post by David Mansell over on Anne Hendler’s blog.
What follows is some quotes from Major League and my ELT related thoughts.
(Please note: Major League II never happened)
Rick Vaughn: What’s that shit on your chest?
Eddie Harris: Crisco.
Eddie Harris: Bardol. Vagisil. Any one of them will give you another two to three inches drop on your curve ball. Of course if the umps are watching me real close I’ll rub a little jalapeo up my nose, get it runnin’, and if I need to load the ball up I just…
Rick Vaughn: You put snot on the ball?
Eddie Harris: I haven’t got an arm like you, kid. I have to put anything on it I can find. Someday you will too.
For me, this quote is all about energy and aging, two things that come to my mind from time to time, especially when I am in my rocking chair trying to plan my next lesson. Now that I have been in this game for 15 years and I am now seeing myself as a cagey veteran and occasional junk-ball pitcher I think it is important to find tricks to keep energy up for when it is truly needed. What comes to mind immediately is things like making the most with just a bit of material and not relying on the ability to be at the front of class firing fastballs for extended amount of time.
(Note: I am not advocating putting snot or Vagisil on worksheets.)
Forget about the curve ball, Ricky. Give him the heater!
While we can make a case for saving our energy and resources and everything sometimes we need to go with our best stuff and not worry about mixing it up. Use your best ideas now and worry about tomorrow when it comes. Don’t worry about keeping people off balance, just do all you can now.
Harry Doyle: That’s all we got, one goddamn hit?
Assistant: You can’t say goddamn on the air.
Harry Doyle: Don’t worry, nobody is listening anyway.
A lot of what we are allowed to do in class depends on who is watching and what they (stakeholders?) expect. So, sometimes a little bit of cussin’ is not such a bad thing, depending on the audience. This also might mean situations where the admin is a little more clueless and/or hands-off the teacher is afforded more autonomy. Some of my best teaching and training experiences have come when nobody was listening anyway.
Come on Dorn, get in front of the damn ball! Don’t give me this “olé” bullshit!
Sometime you just got to get stuck in. For me this means getting in there and dealing with language. I think a lot of time as teachers it can be all too easy to focus on other issues and avoid the nuts and bolts of language. We can’t always avoid this, even when the finer points of language might seem charging bulls and blistering groundballs from time to time. I think I am talking about something akin to what Jim Scrivener might call “getting your hands dirty” in teaching.
Harry Doyle: Monty, anything to add?
Harry Doyle: Monty, anything to add?
Colorman: Ummm… no.
Harry Doyle: He’s not the best colorman in the league for nothing, folks!
The nameless colorman was perhaps aware that sometimes the best thing we can say is nothing. This can create more room for students to do the talking.
Roger Dorne: See, I’ve got it right here in my contract. It says, “I don’t have to do any calisthenics that I don’t feel are necessary.” So what do you think about that?
Contracts don’t always mean the same thing they do in places that are not home. My best advice for those teaching abroad is to find out exactly how important and valuable contracts are in their new context before expecting that the contract is anything more than just a starting point. The answers might surprise and shock you. For me it is always a matter of costing it out and being aware of how far beyond the contract I am willing to go. I am am not sure how useful cries of “It is not in my contract!” are in various countries around the world. I think Lou’s response might be typical in many places.
(You are really going to want to go ahead and click on Lou’s response if you don’t know what it is.)
Harry Doyle: Just a bit outside. He tried for the corner and missed.
Sometimes we see what we want to see. Sometimes that is very far from the objective reality. We need to try to be as accurate as possible about what think we are seeing.
(I am not actually sure if Harry was seeing things in his own way or just being sarcastic or a homer or what.)
I’m not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we’d save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ‘em all a nice big shitburger to eat!
Sometimes rallying around together as a group in the face of low expectations of outsiders can be great motivation. Quite a few times in my life I have been “stuck” teaching the lowest level and they worked their asses off and improved so much and showed they were capable of much more than had been expected of them. I am not sure if giving the world a big shitburger to eat is always the best and most healthy motivation but I believe it can work at times.
Jake Taylor: I play for the Indians.
Chaire Holloway: Here in Cleveland? I didn’t know they still had a team!
Jake Taylor: Yup, we’ve got uniforms and everything, it’s really great!
Sometimes I imagine I am Jake when I talk to non-teachers who seem befuddled that teaching English is an actual job. “Yep, we’ve got whiteboards and everything!” is what I feel like saying. Christina Rebuffet-Broadus has a great post on the question, “So is that your real job?” Much like the cute lady in Major League, people don’t mean any harm by it, but it still is not an enjoyable moment when such questions are asked.
Lou Brown: Nice catch, Hayes. Don’t ever fuckin’ do it again.
Sometimes an idea that works well and looks cool is not something we need to do again. This is an experience I have had many times. I want to try something a bit crazy and it ends up working well but I realize at some point I don’t need to do it anymore.
Lou Brown: Okay Vaughn. They say you’re a pitcher, you’re sure not much of a dresser. We wear caps and sleeves on this level, son.
Sometimes, you just gotta dress the part, son.
Rick Vaughn: I look like a banker in this.
Jake Taylor: Sorry, Rick, house rules.
Again, sometimes you just gotta dress the part. Sometimes there are house rules related to dress and other things. They might not make sense and they might not be what you want to follow but if you want to be there you might need to follow them. If you really don’t want to follow the rules maybe you don’t want to be there and that is probably good and fine for everyone.
Heywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When this guy sneezes, he looks like a party favor.
This is just a shoutout to fans of K0TESOL, nose and ear hair, Pete Vuckavich, Rusty Staub, and the intersection thereof.