Caveat: Johnson’s Finger

I have a sixth grade student who goes by the English nickname of Johnson. He is the absolute lowest-scoring individual currently enrolled at KarmaPlus English Academy. He has some weird behavioral issues. He chose his English nickname, for example, fully aware of its slang meaning, which I needn't elaborate upon here.

The other day, I was making the kids in the class – the lowest level class that I teach – memorize a dialogue from our book. I was making them write it out. Johnson decided to add pictures to his version, which I reproduce below. I realized his pictures are pretty faithful to the pictures in the textbook, except he's introduced a plethora of middle-finger gestures, to liven things up. The boy on the skateboard in the first frame is clearly presenting his middle finger proudly to the other person. And in the second frame, the one person is clearly meditating on a whole string of F-U icons.

Johnson 004

Such is life with adolescents immersed in our fabulous global culture. I don't really find it that offensive. I often pretend to be more offended than I am, if only in an effort to convey to the students that there might be some limits to inappropriate behavior. Mostly, I hope that showing them kindness and tolerance can induce them to pursue the same values. I'm not always successful. But I try. And I like to document their oddly entertaining quirks and foibles.

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