The Breakfast Club has evolved into a group of boys. There was one girl I wanted to join but she has been very sick lately and absent a lot from school. Another girl is unable to make our early morning meetings. So the Breakfast Club is a group of boys presently reading Ender’s Game together, working through choral reading at improving their reading fluency and comprehension. And they are really getting into it. There is actual organic conversation that is growing out of the text at the end of each of our sessions– “Man, I would definitely go with Graff.” “Are you crazy? I would be so scared.” “Really?” I just let the talk happen with very quiet unpretentious urging.
Each morning the guys come in at 7:30am, throwing their backpacks down, a few pacing the space before we begin, even stretching against the walls. They are wide awake and energetic and filled with a newfound enthusiasm for the basketball player, Jeremy Lin. They can’t stop talking about him. They share words like “awesome,” “amazing,” “phenomenal.” They ask each other questions that start with “Did you see the….?” “Can you believe the..?” They are really impressed that Lin seems to have come from nowhere, just sleeping on the couch of some other basketball player a few months before, traded from one team to the next, not even playing for the teams he was on, and now the hottest player for the Knicks. They are also very impressed he is a Harvard graduate.
They’re genuinely excited and exuberant about his quick rise to basketball stardom (except for one boy who seems not too connected to this story but clearly wanting to be). Though I have a son, I feel like I am entering a very different kind of boy’s world for the first time. I don’t remember my son as a big sports fan, at least not when he was in Middle School.
Statistics are of huge importance to them—how many three-pointers, turnovers, free throws, assists. It is clear that this enthusiastic conversation is happening outside of the Breakfast Club too– “I bet you yesterday.” “I thought you were kidding.” “You owe me some money.” I have tried to connect with them, sharing pieces about the racism that has been expressed recently by insensitive sportscasters concerning Lin. They have appreciated my interest, but it is of less concern to them than the almost mythic physical expression of this Harvard graduate.
Their appreciation for Lin seems all bound up in believing in the improbable, in the unlikely, in dreams themselves. His statistics are the evidence they have gathered to prove the unthinkable and the unimaginable. They are wise enough to know that his high number of turnovers makes him human, vulnerable, a bit wild and even more compelling, because he can be like themselves.
After our choral reading of Ender’s Game this morning, GF opened his sweatshirt to reveal Lin’s jersey that he ordered on line (see photo above). The guys were very impressed and, I have to admit, I was too. However, while they were thinking three pointers, I was thinking of a very different kind of turnover.