Talking ‘Bout Habitual Practice

One of the most famous sports quotes of the past few decades is former NBA basketball player Allen Iverson’s rant on practice. In a 2002 interview Iverson was asked by someone in the sports media about the suggestion that he participate in his team’s practice more often – his response was to question the concept of practice….20 times in a span of 2 minutes. (watch it here)

Language is an amazing thing. Here’s one word – practice – defined in completely opposite ways by different people in the same context. Iverson, easily one of the most talented basketball players ever, was talking about practice as something you do apart from and to prepare for the real. Onlookers (at that time and since) understood practice as the way you conduct yourself in daily life. The irony of Iverson’s bewilderment that someone would question his practice probably explains a lot about why he, despite his talent, never won a championship and struggled during the second half of his career.

Two senses of the word, so opposite in meaning, yet so easily confused. I wonder about student mindsets when we use the word practice so often in Iverson’s sense – practice your handwriting, practice your speech, your presentation, the piano, for the game tomorrow. Especially for language learners, the practice of daily life means so much more than the practice of preparing in constructed environments.

I bring this up as a prelude to my next post. I recently wrote about Ursula Franklin, and one of my intentions in doing so was to try to encourage people to read her and learn about her life, as I recently have. In writing about her ideas and the ideas she sparked in me, I tried to point out the importance of our habitual, daily life when it comes to technology use. People who use technology, and pass along tech habits to younger generations have to be aware about how they practice even more so than about what they teach. For habitual tech use, there is much that we take for granted, that maybe we shouldn’t.

I’ve edited an original draft of my recent article that keeps the focus on Franklin, representing my thought process more directly to how it occurred, and to keep it a bit more brief. It provides a different slant than was posted at, which I want to preserve it for my own sake. (note: it’s not a full article, and not nearly as polished as the final piece)


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