The Art of the False Concession
Sometimes I teach my students how to write, sometimes I teach them how to read, and sometimes I actually teach them something important: last week, I realized that my lesson had run too long the day before, and I was going to probably have to move the due date for an essay back a day . . . but I didn't start the lesson with this information, instead I kept the old due date on the board and waited -- because invariably, if you have an assignment due Friday, some brave kid will ask if the class can have until Monday to complete it -- and, as usual, a kid that I also coached in soccer took the bait and asked -- quite nicely -- if they could have the weekend to finish their writing piece, and I took a moment and thought deeply about his request (acting!) and then sighed and said, "Sure, why not" and then I told the class to thank the student for getting them some extra time on the essay and this kid was the hero . . . even though I planned to move the assignment back all along, but this way I was able to give them something against my will - it was their choice, not mine -- and so I told the next period what I had done, and how this was a very valuable skill called "the false concession" and I told them they should practice this on their friends -- instead of saying, "I'm full, does anyone want the rest of these french fries . . . otherwise, I'm going to throw them out" you should wait and when someone asks you for a french fry, you can say, "Sure, they're really good, but you can have the rest" and gift them to your friend, and when you're sitting around with people and you have to get up to go to the bathroom, you should ask the people if anyone wants a drink or needs anything, and then get up, so they think the reason you are getting up is for them, even though you were going to get up in the first place, and then after I revealed these mysteries, I told them to pass the word along to the student from the earlier period about what happened and one girl did this and the next day he was mildly annoyed with me, because he felt duped, but I explained that adults do this all the time and he should learn to do it too (and along with this rule, this may be the most significant thing I'll teach them all year).