Boy, do I wish that I could have handled reluctant students like this when I was in grad school.
I was a Teaching Assistant and frequently graded the work of undergrads.
It would have been a dream to have been able to avoid all of the time spent grading papers and fretting about exams.
Like McMurtry, I could have beat most of them at ping-pong.
But I could have straight-up hustled them at pool – once upon a time.
I have a hunch most of the students would have gone for it too.
I was teaching, literature—or at least my mandated selection of it—held little appeal. In desperation I began to challenge these reluctant students to Ping-Pong matches, a game at which I was then quite good. If a student won, he or she got an A; if they lost they got a C.