Sunday, April 11, 2010


A student of mine whom I'll refer to as "Junior" was singing the Dora the Explorer theme song the other day. As a refresher here, I teach eighth grade. Maybe in a kindergarten classroom, the Dora theme would go unnoticed; in a middle school classroom, I found it surprising and touching.

Shortly thereafter that same time, I saw Junior in the hallway complaining to his friends about how long it was taking them to catch up to him. "Damn, n***a," he said, "let's go, we gotta get to class."

"Junior," I said sharply, "that's not appropriate."

"Oh," he said, realizing I was right behind him, "yeah, sorry."

"You know," I said, "not ten minutes ago you were singing the Dora song, and now I hear that kind of language from you?"

"Yeah," he said, shrugging. "You know. My little brother." (Junior has a brother in the elementary school; second grade, I think.)

"Well, you wouldn't want your little brother to hear that other language, would you?"

"Nah, nah," he said. "You're right."

I sent him on his way, shaking my head a little. It was a good reminder of just how "middle" middle school can be.