Don’t let Muhammad Ali die unnoticed


Muhammad Ali passed away this week. I fear that this may go totally unnoticed in schools.

What is the reason for this?

Are we afraid that acknowledging and honouring him might, in some obscure way, be controversial? Someone is always offended by something in these places, right?

Are we becoming so unfamiliar with the idea of genuine heroes that we no longer appreciate who he was or what he did?

Is the notion of a famous person putting everything on the line so that he/she may take a real stance on something so alien to us these days that Ali no longer seems real?

Are we simply ignorant and have little or no understanding of the man’s importance in the civil rights and anti-war movements?

Or… perhaps most worryingly… did we forget it mattered?

I lay down the challenge that you set aside what ever other stuff you believe is so important it must be taught, and introduce your students to Muhammad Ali – for it may well be the first time they have heard of him – and seek inspiration from the way he lived his life.


  1. kathmurdoch

    Or are we so chained to ‘the plan’ that we don’t give ourselves permission to use something as significant as this as the basis for unexpected but powerful teaching? Do we leave insufficient space in our day/week/year to dive into the things we can’t plan for? I hear so many teachers say they ‘don’t have time’ to inquire into current events or follow up interesting questions and opportunities….and this is most certainly one of them. Good call, Sam.

    • sherrattsam

      If we are not to learn from people like this, doesn’t the meaning of their lives diminish somewhat?

  2. kellijelli

    Or maybe it’s the end of our school year and we’re all chasing our tails to make sure that all of the reflections, tying up of UOI’s and preparations for 3 way conferences and Evaluations of Learning and writing moderation and data mining are done………no mental space to take a breath and remember……..

      • sherrattsam

        If all of that matters more – today – than Muhammad Ali, or any other significant person or moment in history – we may as well give up now.

        • kellijelli

          It’s not that it matters more. As I said, the mental space is so full, the idea to use him in our teaching right now, may just slip past.

  3. Steve Martin

    I’m out for the summer already but it doesn’t matter. The life and lessons of MA can be introduced and integrated into my teaching next term; there is no sell-by date on these things. As for those teachers who are rarely able to get these important passing moments in life into their classrooms, because of what’s already on their to-do list or because it hasn’t been planned for, then I feel there’s something wrong somewhere. Perhaps they are a little too content oriented, or maybe they fail to see the significance of such real-life teaching examples, or maybe they are just not confident professionals and are unable to make those personal decisions as to what should be added or what can be taken away.

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