One morning I gave in and let my class play a game. They were beyond cantankerous which meant we weren’t going to accomplish anything anyway and it would give me a chance to observe them.
Taboo Junior was the game of choice. The word “space shuttle” came up, and the coach said, “outer —, out there.” Everyone else in the room nodded, understanding that he wanted the player to say “outer space.” Snapping us all right back to reality, however, the player replied, “You mean on the outs? As in out of here?”
The coach didn’t hold back his disdain, but persisted in getting the game off the ground and launching his partner’s imagination into orbit. Finally getting him to say “stars,” he came right back to earth. “Oh,” he said excitedly, “The North Star takes us to Antarctica.” For a moment it wasn’t clear if the two were going to end the game in a fist fight or a fit of laughter when the last sand in the timer fell. An exasperated opponent snatched the point.
I looked dumbfounded, I’m sure, at the smallness of my student’s world. How was I going to crack this nut?