Age-appropriate is defined, by my good friend Google (from Oxford Dictionaries), as "suitable for a particular age or age group". Easy enough, right? Most 18-year-olds do not like Spongebob, so it would not be appropriate for my students to enjoy Spongebob. Boom, the end. Except, there are some flaws to this logic:
- Some high schoolers do, in fact, like Spongebob.
- Who am I to tell an adult what he should/should not like?
- What "age" should we be concerned with: physical or cognitive?
I scroll through my Facebook news feed and see what I think would be deemed age-inappropriate things that adults with typical cognition are doing: dressing up in costumes for comic-con and renaissance faires; wearing Disney Princess shirts; participating in role-playing card/dice games; watching kids movies; dedicating entire rooms in their homes to Disney merchandise; reading kids books (okay, maybe that last one is me. haha!). And do you know why they do it? Because it makes them happy. And do you know who stops them? No one.
On the other hand, we spend so much time and effort trying to help our students fit in with the general population, so I understand that if I have a student who carries around a Larry Boy from Veggie Tales doll, he will look different. I completely agree with helping my students become accepted by the community and know that there are some social norms that need be adhered to. There is, indeed, a time and place for everything. I also understand that I have students who do not want to be associated with being a "baby" and would not appreciate being forced to do "baby" things. This is why I feel that choice is so important within my classroom. I try to include classroom activities for the various interests of my students. To be honest, though, that might include providing materials for a student to color during choice/leisure if that's what she appreciates (and the coloring book that she purchased for herself on a community outing just might have been Dora the Explorer). I feel a little biased and definitely confused, so I honestly ask: is this wrong? Should I encourage my students to participate only in age-appropriate activities? Should I remove from my classroom the puzzles, books, and games that would not be suitable for high schoolers? What are your thoughts??