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Educators and the NBA

Amar'e StoudemireIn an April 2 article in the sports pages of the New York Post, Brian Lewis writes, speaking of the New York Knicks star player Amar’e Stoudemire, “Stoudemire has appeared to wear down of late, after… logging the most minutes he has in his career. He’s averaging a career-high 37 minutes, well over his lifetime norm of 34, and it has taken a toll…. That’s why [Coach] D’Antoni acknowledged some rest… would serve his All-Star big man well.”

Just three minutes can make so much difference? Yes, of course. Because of the intense concentration of energy and all-consuming nature of the work.

Educators are in many respects like athletes. Not in terms of calories burned per paid hour on the job but in terms of emotional and psychic expenditure. The wear and tear on the total self is unsurpassed by any other demanding line of work.

That’s true for all school levels and subject areas in general and special education. The rewards are great but so is the toll that it takes. We understand the “no pain/no gain” ratio as well as world-class athletes.

Three minutes may not seem like a significant stretch of time, but on an NBA court it is. And the time that educators are “in play on the court” may not seem demanding relative to the time it takes for snow to melt after a Bloombergian snowstorm, but it can feel like an eternity when we’re pelted with a thousand hailstones of duties, many imposed in the name of education that have nothing to do with teaching and learning. Remember, for instance, when the tabloids lambasted the “inefficiency” of teachers not teaching all eight periods of an eight-period school day?

Recouping our strength and “recharging our batteries” is not a luxury but a necessity. We need it to score the “baskets” that are our children’s futures.