Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Real Person

Did you ever meet one that disappointed you because the way they were in real life is much different than what you expected? Have you ever met a celebrity in person that you really liked the way they were in real life?

One year at our Council for Exceptional Children national conference, Patch Adams was our keynote speaker. I remember watching the movie starring Robin Williams. I thought it was a great movie and was impressed with the character. But to think that I was going to finally meet this person in real life was so exciting. Imagine my surprise when I found out that he was an arrogant, belligerent man. He was not friendly and had no intention of being friendly. Our teacher of the year told him that her kids admired him and read his book and asked if he would take a picture with her. He told her no but if she wanted to pay for it, he might be willing. He was not joking and we were all in shock at his behavior. He asked the group why anyone thought they could take a picture of him without paying him for it. I was flabbergasted! Needless to say, I left the room, and was not impressed with him at all. In fact, his keynote address left me cold.

FonzA few years later at another national conference, I met Henry Winkler (the Fonz on Happy Days) and he was awesome! He was the keynote speaker at my conference and suddenly got bit by the shy bug and couldn’t go up to meet him. He honed in on me, walked to me, and said that I looked like I needed a hug so he hugged me! We also saw him at the hotel bar and he acted just like an ordinary person talking to different people like you and I would. I liked him even more because of this. When he gave his speech, you could tell that it was heartfelt and real. He was a sincere person who seemed to truly care about what he was saying and how people received it.

This made such a big impression on me. It made me realize that my students see me in the same light. If I come across like Patch Adams, they will write me off and not care about anything I have to say. If I am like Henry Winkler, and show how much I truly care and that I am a real person like them, the students will be more receptive and willing to hear what I have to say.

Have you had an experience like one of these? If so, please share!

Image: 'The Fonz'


neochonetes said...

Yes, Pat. I've had similar expectations also.

When Jane Goodall was first going around the USA, talking about her project to protect the primates left in the world, I met her in Wichita, KS. She was just as warm and kind as she was in the documentaries I had seen of her when I was a kid. I've always had a warm spot in my heart for her.

I've had many similar experiences like that, but I also had a horrible experience. I was embarrassed that I even brought my class to have to endure a negative experience with a writer.

A few decades ago, before she wrote "Under the Kapok Tree". CJ Cherryh came to an area community college as part of a writers' workshop. I took a group of very serious middle school students who were so thrilled to be there they could hardly stand it.

As she came into the room, they were quietly looking at her and saying, "There she is!". At this point, CJ Cherryh chose to stop and lecture my students on there impolite behavior. Needless to say, the rest of the day was ruined, and the students came away with only those rude words in their memory.

I've never bought another of her books, nor have I EVER recommended any of her work to anyone. As a public figure, selected to encourage kids about writing, I felt she missed the mark.

loonyhiker said...

@neochonetes Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I don't blame you for the not buying anymore of those books from that author. I can't even watch the movie Patch Adams now without feeling a certain disgust.

Angela Brill said...

I have been enjoying your posts! Good perspective on teaching!