It’s almost hoops time again. In the Bluegrass state, most of the emotion centers on UK. Other alma maters have their ardent fans, but “big blue” is the statewide phenomenon for fan mania. Superb athletes combine with great coaching to produce moves that would seem impossible, or at least unlikely, to most mortals. Natural gifts play a huge part, but not all. On the gym floor, throughout all the unseen practices, players practice and execute a host of fundamentals under the watchful eyes of the coaches. Moves are practiced hundreds, perhaps thousands of times.
When a game is underway, lots of these moves show up, and they appear spontaneous, and by this time they are. The moves take place like a flash of lightning—often with agility and speed that hardly take thought. It is hard for the observer to realize that these moves started out long before by taking thought. Thought invested long enough, side by side with action, leads to spontaneity.
Being a teacher or a student operates the same way. Learning begins with piecework drills. Small parts are perfected and then connected into larger patterns. At some magical point, thought and labor fall into the background, and what the learner has been taking, begins to take the learner. An old mentor put it like this: “What you take takes you.” I grew up hearing the saying, “Do you get it yet?” The asker wanted to hear, “Yes, I get it now.”
The gifted and talented attract the most attention, but the “big blue” are not the only game going. Driveways, playgrounds, and gyms sport a multitude of those who love to play hoops even though they will never have paraphernalia dedicated to them in a sporting goods store, win a press-worthy title, or earn a paycheck for playing. They love to play, sweat, compete, and enjoy the beauty and thrill of the game.
In the classroom, most teachers and students will never take the spotlight either. However, their labors are rewarding and fitting for useful and even enjoyable everyday goals. As the teaching and learning go on, so do the fundamentals and the endless practice. Prime time arrives with papers and tests. Then the magic happens. The amazing answer jumps onto the page, or the crafted sentence flows out into print. Spontaneity has arrived.