Secondary Education

“What’s a Karen?” I ask my seventh grade advanced Language Arts class yesterday. Their teacher —I, the substitute, am there as a “guest”—has posted a daily warm-up question on Google Classroom: “With what talent or useless skill could you win a gold medal?”

This class is a lively one, bright, engaged and 30-large. They want to share their responses aloud, but when the second “I can do a mean impression of Karen as a …” surfaces, I have to come clean. I have no idea what a “Karen” is. Do you know?

I admit that I’m ignorant about “Karen.” And oh, they are quick to guffaw, then educate me. On Chromebook screens, eager kids share definition and photos. “Ms. Emerson, here is Karen.”

” This is what a Karen is.”

“I can’t believe you didn’t know.” The meme culture strikes again.

To write this, I investigated Karen a bit more and found that she’s been around since 2020, but obviously I haven’t. Remember the pandemic? I resist memes in general; the word, overused as it is, gives me the creeps. Why? I have no idea, but the substance of the slang does interest me, and the kids’ interest in it does, too. Dare I hope that by mocking the behavior, the behavior will disappear?

I honestly thank the kids for enlightening me, realize that I can never keep up, nor do I want to. But, boy, do I love when they get to teach me!

4 thoughts on “Secondary Education”

  1. Kids both know loads and are certain they are experts in lots. Substituting must give you lots of peeks into the world of a variety of kids.

    1. I have become extremely selective lately and stick primarily to one school, middle 6-8, or a few teachers whom I’ve known over time. Thanks for reading.

  2. i admit this is a term I was not familiar with. I often where terms like this get their start. Who first introduced the term? Under what circumstances? Why “Karen” and not some other name or term? I guess I am just too old.

  3. Not too old, is that even possible?, but like me, already seasoned and selective—or at least, that’s how I think of it. (My husband reacted to my post with an incredulous, “You really didn’t know what a Karen is?” Yikes, who knew?)

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