In the first days of school, I make a point to learn the names of my high school students and I also try to learn a thing or two about them -- if they play a sport or musical instrument, like to read a certain genre of literature, belong to a particular club or like a certain kind of music -- this comes in handy as a mnemonic to remember their names and faces, and it's also useful when I create hypothetical writing examples, as I tend to use the students and their likes and dislikes . . . but I also end up expressing a lot of my own opinions about their activities and passions, and this year some of my students are volleyball players and swimmers, and though it's not even the end of September, I think I've really given them a hard time about their avocations . . . I've told the volleyball players in my senior English class -- two very sweet, tall athletic girls -- that "volleyball is Fascist" and I don't want to interlock my arms and rotate on command and stand in the same spot and move like a robot, and that volleyball "stifles the creative spirit" and that if I had time I would write a long essay about how much more expressive and athletic and wonderful soccer is than volleyball, and then I told my swimmers that they might be clinically insane to wake up that early just to splash around in a damp room and that "there is no joy in any sport without a ball" and I'm not sure if the students think this ranting and raving is part of the curriculum or what, but I'm going to try my best to have an open mind about what my students spend their time doing (unless it's participating in musical theater, because nothing is more fun than satirizing musical theater while teaching class).