October 23, 2021

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Are You a Sneakerhead?

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Students in U.S. high schools can get free digital access to The New York Times until Sept. 1.

Do you consider yourself a “sneakerhead”? How many pairs do you have? What are the best you’ve ever owned? What sneakers do you wish you owned? What would you do to get the latest shoe? How much would you pay?

In “Best Foot Forward,” Julia Rothman and Shaina Feinberg profile Dallas Penn, a 50-year-old construction manager who considers himself to be a sneakerhead. Here are some excerpts from his illustrated story:

Students, read the entire article and then tell us:

  • Are you a “sneakerhead”? If so, when did you start collecting sneakers and why? How many shoes do have in your collection? Do you have any rare sneakers or are there any you would like to get your hands on? What’s your “holy grail item”? Tell us about your favorite sneaker that you own and why.

  • If you are not a sneakerhead, what do you think of this hobby? Do you have any passions or collections that match those of these shoe fanatics? If so, what are they, and how did your obsession begin?

  • What is your reaction to the article and Mr. Penn’s love of sneakers? Mr. Penn says that sneakers are “a status and wellness descriptor.” Do you agree? What other aspects of his story resonate with your own experiences or take on footwear?

  • What role do sneakers play in your fashion, style and life? Are they for playing sports? A fashion statement? An investment? Like Mr. Penn, do you like to build your “outfit architecture” around your sneakers? What are you looking for when you buy a new shoe?

  • What does your choice of sneakers, or shoes more generally, say about you? Do your sneakers reflect something more about your identity, personality or values? In what ways does your choice of shoes, and your fashion as a whole, connect you to your culture, religion, family, friends, idols, ancestors or community?

  • Do you think sneakers are art? If so, do you think they belong in museums? Why or why not? If you had to induct one sneaker into a Sneaker Museum or Hall of Fame, what would it be? What do you consider to be the G.O.A.T. of sneakers?


About Student Opinion

Find all of our Student Opinion questions in this column.
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Learn more about how to use our free daily writing prompts for remote learning.

Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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