Everything I Ever Learned Came from 30 Years of Following Cal Football…

“Wear your Oriole cap,” quipped the wife.

I was sadly trying to figure out what cap to wear on an early morning trip to Walgreens over in a part of town where it would be generous to describe the clientele as wholly unable to even spell “UCLA”…and it was bad enough that the alma mater had fallen so far from grace in less than a week that I had to turn to my even more bottom-dwelling baseball team for a choice in headgear.

The Cal football team decided late yesterday afternoon to turn its road game against UCLA into a trip to a Haunted House, getting embarrassed 31-14 to a Bruin team missing 6 suspended players, and with a coach, Rick Neuheisel, whose job seemed seriously in jeopardy until around 6 pm last night.

Words escape me.

But even if Cal coach Jeff Tedford is reluctant to turn last night’s debacle into a legitimate teachable moment, I am not so reticent.  If the Cal football team won’t learn from its own disastrous failures doesn’t meant that I can’t use the team’s own failures to teach my own kids.

(Also, for anyone who has followed Cal football, the team’s history is chock full of teachable moments. Even for those will little unfamiliarity with the program’s legacy, telling you that the team hasn’t been in the Rose Bowl since 1959 ought to tell you enough…)

To wit:  My class did surprisingly well on their first Math test of the school year a couple of weeks back.  Now, with the second Unit test of the year on the horizon early this coming week, I am legitimately worried that the early success of the first test might lull the kids into a complacency not unlike Cal last night–in other words, the team was “supposed” to play well against a seriously depleted Bruin team.  Then, they didn’t.

I can already sense that something similar might be happening to my students with respect to this current Math unit.  So far, they’ve appeared to make a nice transition to a new Math program my site has begun to use.   Nevertheless, with only one test result, it’s not like we really have a consistent sample size to go by.  I know disaster could be around the corner; much like my sinking suspicion about Cal’s chances last night (i.e. this win appeared to be too easily gifted to actually believe that we were actually going to win.), I can see this group of kids not mentally prepared to raise their game for this next challenge.

I’ve got enough football fans amongst my kids to enable me to turn last night’s debacle at the Rose Bowl into a teachable moment.  Given what is at stake (that they at least need to somewhat match their performance on the first test), I fully intend to do so.

For a quick glance at the year’s first Math test results, click here:  NSandOUnit1TestChart


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