Thursday, January 25, 2018

Slow To, Umm, Speak

In January of 2014, the Baseball Hall of Fame class was announced and to no one's surprise, the highest vote getter was pitcher Greg Maddux, who started a tradition in my classes a number of years ago. We play the Umm Game in Bible every year. I do pretty good in most classes but some of the kids struggled. One year, Andrew Smith, one of my best students, had a difficult time even getting a word out. What is the Umm Game? Read the entry below, from September 17, 2006, to find out!

Greg Maddux is one of my favorite baseball players. In the twilight of a twenty-one year career, Maddux still has nights of brilliance. Now pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers after stints with the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves, the forty year old has possessed such good control of his pitches that Hall of Famer Joe Morgan once said that "Greg Maddux could put a baseball through a Life Saver." At 331 career victories, he ranks tenth all-time in major league baseball for wins by a pitcher. Maddux is very highly respected in baseball for his intelligence and modesty. Several years ago, I heard an interview with him that surprised me. It seemed that every sentence he uttered was spliced with umm.. and you know. I guess I believed someone as well versed as this three-time Cy Young Award winner would not fall into the same speech patterns as the rest of us mortals. I was wrong.

Last week, we began playing THE UMM GAME in my five Bible classes at Westbury Christian School. The rules are simple: every time one of the students says umm or uh, they lose a point off their grade individually. If I say umm or uh, the entire class gets a point added to their grade. The kids love it because they usually win, due to my talking more than anyone else. They/we don't realize how often they/we say umm in the midst of communicating. I simply try to get them to pay attention to their speech patterns. Some of the kids panic. When they consciously try to avoid saying it, they find themselves at a loss for words. Some cover their mouths as they attempt to answer a question. Umm has become an ingrained part of our vernacular, albeit an incorrect part. Don't feel bad; several of my foreign students used it last week, too. Umm has crossed borders and now qualifies as a worldwide epidemic!

Most of what gets us into trouble relates to speech. In his New Testament work, James makes several references to the connection between what we say and our spiritual health. James 1:19 cautions the reader to be "slow to speak." What I find with my students is that, like me, they speak effortlessly. When they become careful simply to avoid losing one point on a quiz, they are much less likely to say a word that costs them AND they speak with fewer words. As the teacher trying not to blurt out the dreaded umm, I muzzle myself. I am off to an excellent start, with only a couple of slips so far. (My basketball players tried to make it applicable in practice- I quashed that idea!) So, my speech is under control, at least in Room 258, Monday-Friday from 7:40 AM to 3:25 PM. How much more effective in portraying Jesus to a desperate world would we all be if we took this simple approach every time we opened our mouths to speak! Now, I just have to find a way to market THE UMM GAME to the masses!

Applicable quote of the day:
"Greg Maddux is so good, we all should be wearing tuxedos when he pitches."
Phil Favia (Montreal Expos scout)

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Jon said...

I was so good at the UMMM game!!!

Erik said...

Coach its has become ingrained within our vocab, its hard not to say it. but i have to improve my speech due to the show