Ahh, it’s that time of the year again. The ground is beginning to solidify, trees are budding, the grass is photosynthesizing, and the temperature is increasing. Spring has sprung once again, finally. After a long and hard winter, I finally packed away my winter coat and boots and extracted my spring fleece from the closet this week. Excitement abounds in and out of the classroom as well.
Spring also marks the beginning of our sexual education or health curriculum in the sixth grade. Today ushered in the short unit with a discussion of puberty and the changes our boys are experiencing or will very shortly be going through. This also began the always fun use of male reproductive part words. While it is quite hilarious when someone says a double entendre, the boys love pushing the boundaries with potty language at this point in the year as well.
Following the discussion of puberty, the boys moved into Humanities class, during which time we completed a read-aloud. We read aloud to the class from The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. When we finished reading today, we asked the students to make a prediction about how they think Ivan will save Ruby. One of the boys said, “He’s gonna punch Mac in the balls again.” The boys erupted in laughter, of course. Heck, it’s funny stuff. Because the students are learning about the male reproductive system, I figured I would correct this student and give him the proper terminology to talk about that area of the body. So, I said, “Let’s use the correct word for that area as you are learning about it in PEAKS class: Testicles.” That caused even more of a raucous. Then, one of the students said, “Did you say pesticles Mr. Holt?” At which point, I broke out laughing. What a funny name that would be. Sometimes they may seem like pests, but no they are testicles.
As our students begin to learn more about their bodies and play with language, it’s important to remember our role as their teachers. We need to educate and correct but also realize that the boys may need to play around with words like balls and penis to get comfortable with them. We need to make sure that we don’t crack down and reprimand them everytime they say a male reproductive part. We want them to be focused when it’s important and respectful of course, but we don’t want our students to be or feel embarrassed about who they are and what they have. So, in that vain, always remember that “the pen is mightier than the sword.”