HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, POKÉMON!
This weekend marked the 20th anniversary of Pokémon. The Pikachu community within Pokémon consists of a variety of characters with interesting and unique names to fit their diverse personalities. I’m sure my son had a Pokémon in his teen years, but my first real introduction to it came while I was teaching a class in inner city Detroit.
As an English teacher, the most “Englishy” ice breaker at the start of a semester was to have each student introduce herself by preceding her name with descriptive adjective. For example, Shamika would be Shy Shamika. Darius would be Daring Darius. And so on.
The exercise always went well, with the exception of the letter “J.” No one could ever come up with an adjective for that letter. It may have had to do with the limited vocabulary at the beginning of the year or the lack of exposure to a broader vocabulary in these students’ daily lives. But one year, when I was teaching a learning disability class and the students introduced one another, the student whose name started with the letter “J” became helplessly stuck.
As usual, other students struggled to help him find a suitable adjective. Time was running out and the rule was that if one fails to come up with a name, she or he will have to accept the name chosen by the class. My reasoning is that if we are not proactive to name ourselves, others will always find a name for us, and it may not be so pleasant.
Just as we were about to give up, one student piped up the suggestion of the adjective “jovial”. I was stunned. Not just because of the limited vocabulary of many inner city kids, but more importantly that this was a class labeled as learning disabled.
“Where did you come up with that?” I asked with a tinge of wonderment in my voice..
“Oh, I got it from Pokémon.” He then went on to explain how characters had “natures” which made up their personalities. After looking at these natures, I saw that there was a wealth of adjectives which could add color and depth to any student’s writing. They included words like “adamant”, “bashful”, “docile” ---“hardy”, “hasty”, and “impish.”
Pokémon would become our classroom tool for finding adjectives that semester. This bright young student was perhaps no more intelligent than the other students, but he had a tool which exposed him to a vocabulary he might not otherwise have come across.
For that I am thankful to Pokémon and the wonderful world of Pikachu. So as Poke man celebrates its 20th anniversary, I wish it many decades of natures to help future students gain high statistical ratings and to help them excel in the game of Pokemon and in life!