I want to predicate this by saying I typically write more emotionally and seriously. If you didn’t enjoy last week’s Part 1 of Uranus is Gassy, then save your time by not reading this week’s continuation. Part 2 here focuses on inappropriate boy humor that I have encountered in the classroom. I apologize to any who find it distasteful and urge you to come back for my other blog posts, which tend to be more serious.

Balls are Funny

In an episode of “Bill Nye, The Science Guy”, Bill is talking about atoms and molecules from a ball pitt. For no apparent reason, he begins to talk about big balls, small balls, bouncy balls, blue balls, continues with things like balls are fun.

I show it every year, and every year there is at least one kid snickering and making faces at a friend across the room. If it is just a couple of kids and if nobody is really noticing them, I don’t say a thing.

One year, I had a student who frequently said and did inappropriate things. Most of the things he had been guilty of previously were more serious and he had been disciplined in various ways.

I was showing that balls clip when I noticed him sneakily laughing and looking at and whispering to a girl in the class. The girl was a well-behaved, role-model student.

When boys are snickering about what I suspect to be inappropriate stuff with other boys, I get upset. When it is with a girl classmate, I get REALLY upset. Sorry for the bias, I have four daughters.

He didn’t know I was observing him and for some reason I thought I’d just quickly hit pause and ask him what was so funny.

With a shocked look on his face, I knew I had him busted on the spot.

“Nothing, Mr. Whitaker.” he said with eyes as big and white as a couple of hard boiled eggs.

“Uh-huh, what is so funny about the word BALLS that you just keep snickering about it?”

With a confused look on his face, he looked up at the screen and saw Bill standing in the colorful pit of plastic balls.

I realized at that very moment, that he had not even been paying attention to the clip. Before I could say anything further, he pointed at the girl student he had been quietly communicating with.

“Well I was laughing cause she is holding that pencil sharpener like this and looking at me.”

He precedes to imitate her as if she were an attractive model on a game show posing with a prize, gesturing with her hand how marvelous and beautiful her pencil sharpener was.

I immediately felt embarrassed, the only one in that room that day guilty of being immature was Mr. Whitaker.

Different Video Same Story

There is a clip on one episode of Planet Earth where they show a Wild Donkey and the British narrator says… “Nothing chooses to live here. Well nothing, that is, except the……(long pause)….. Wiiiiild Asssss.”

I do not believe for a second that the BBC didn’t know what they were doing. The same culture that brought us Monty Python surely intended to emphasize the name of this stupid animal that lives where there is no water or food. I can just see the narrator in a sound booth with headphones on as he does voiceover work, giggling uncontrollably between takes.

Then shortly after, an even better line…“The female ass is a mysterious creature.” I’m just over in the corner hoping no student looks at me, cause I’m all “Yes… yes they are British narrator guy.”

Penises On the Board

I have made a number of errors leading to inappropriate laughs. Before I share though, imagine a classroom before LCD projectors and quick access to google images.

I am a visual learner and, therefore, I like to use visuals in teaching. Back then, I drew a lot of pictures as I taught. Students enjoyed them and often complimented me on the board sketches.

I once drew a penis on the board. Well, Florida really, but yeah… a penis.

I had just read to them a story that took place in the everglades and I was attempting to show them an approximate location.  I drew only the oceanic borders of Florida, the peninsula. I then drew a curved line across the southern tip to indicate where the everglades are located.

With my back to the room I hear a student whisper loudly and suspiciously to another one, “What did he just draw?” followed by 3-5 soft laughs, the kind you can tell they are trying to contain.

Without turning back around I realized what it looked like and very quickly erased it. To their credit, most students were naive enough (as they should be) and just thought it was Florida probably. I think. I hope.

Apparently I’m good at this same mistake. When will I learn?

Another lesson, I drew a penis AND testicles while I was attempting to draw the bronchial tube and lungs.  That time I was very proud of my drawing, it looked exactly like a biology sketch of the upper respiratory system, complete with veins on the lung tissues.

As I turned back around to address the class, I realized that three boys had tears in their eyes and heads as red as sports cars. Immediately, I woke up to what this amazing illustration was in their eyes. Instantly I whipped around and rubbed it from the board before their awakening could spread across the classroom.

Luckily in that incident there were no outburst of laughter, and so no other students were suspicious or curious why the respiratory system explanation was causing disruption.

Big Boner or a Hot Dog?

In my first year, I did a cool math activity that was cross-curricular and used a dictionary. You solved a series of random math problems which would lead to random words that students had to then use in a sentence.

The very first one I did as an example with a student to model the activity for the class. He ended up on the word BONER (yes, it’s in Webster’s), which means something along the lines of “one who is acting silly or goofy.” The boy, of vietnamese descent and unfamiliar to common American adolescent boy slang, then gave his sentence.

“Mr. Whitaker is a big boner.”

That particular year I had a large number of boys and a few girls from “rougher” areas of our community and who were very well enlightened on this slang. They didn’t even try to hide their laughter.

The vietnamese kid, who was often left out of things socially, smiled proudly and felt included for the first time that year. I’m sure he assumed they were laughing because Mr. Whitaker was in fact a big, silly, goofy guy.

The drawings and comments don’t just come from my lessons. Over the years I have picked up lots of drawings or notes left on tables and floors at the end of the day. I so wish I would have saved every last one of them.

One of my favorite pictures I came across, I picked up from the floor. A student had sketched Mr. Whitaker. It was not well drawn, but well enough I could figure out what it was meant to be. It was a man inside of a hot dog costume. The speech bubble coming from the man read, “I’m Mr. Whitaker. I’m a sexy man.”

hotdogsuit

I showed it to my colleagues and shared a lot of laughs before bringing it home. Some things you immediately know you have to keep. To this day, on my fridge is a picture of me as a wiener shouting to the world that I am, in fact, a sexy man, not just a hot dog.

I’m 40 years old, I am with 10-11 year olds most of the year. I can’t help but share in their boyish humor at times. Be appalled or be humored, but either way, forgive me.

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