Grade-school teachers and the no Pokemon rule

Last year my son was a second grader. He had a number of assignments throughout the year that included the phrase: “…and no Pokemon!” He was asked to read and do brief reports on several chapter books, for example. He had to do a poster on some subject he liked. he had to do a project that illustrated math concepts. For each of these, his teacher included an instruction on the assignment sheet that said he couldn’t use anything Pokemon-themed. I assume she did this after experience in being deluged with Pokemon related stuff.

So this fall, my son comes to me. “Papito,” he says, “I think Ms. S----- was wrong to not let us use Pokemon. For example, we had to learn about probabilities and estimating.” (They had a circle divided up into eight pie pieces, with four red, two blue, one white, one green, and had to answer questions like, “Is it very likely that a spinner would land on green, or very unlikely?”)

"In Pokemon, I made this chart to see how rare certain Pokemon in such-and-so region are. See? Every time I encountered a Starly, I made a mark here, Every time I encountered a Ponyta, I made a mark on this line. After about a hundred, I got 42 Starlys and only 6 Ponytas, so i know Starly is pretty common and Ponyta is pretty rare.

“So I was thinking, even though she’s not my teacher any more, I could give her this chart and maybe she’d let this year’s class use some Pokemon in their work, because it really does teach things.”

This is a no-brainer, right? Of course he should do that. What’s the harm?

Is there any chance this might seem challenging or disrespectful? He may have that same teacher again for fourth grade as the school is contemplating switching teachers around.

Bricker, your LittleBricker sounds really smart. Insightful and bright. Also, quite generous to be looking out for another class like that.

Best case scenario: the teacher recognizes how intelligent LittleBricker is to have come up with all this on his own, and if/when she is his teacher again, goes to a little extra trouble with him.

Worst case scenario: the teacher finds it disrespectful, a challenge to her authority, etc. and gets all insulted and huffy, thus teaching LittleBricker one helluvan important lesson about life.

What that lesson might be, I don’t know. But it’s important.

Maybe Brickerito can put it as “Ms. S—, can I show you something I did which uses what I learned in your class? I thought you might like to see that I’m using it… but the problem is that it’s for Pokemon. I know you don’t like Pokemon…”

Make sure he’s wearing a size=8 halo and his bestest, whitest wings too :smiley:

What’s her problem with Pokemon? It’s great for that age! It’s wonderful and getting them math practice, “I have 200 health points and your Pokemon just took away 80, but this card doubles my health points so… … … It’s 240, right?”

The teacher is probably trying to “broaden their minds” by making them pick a topic other than Pokemon. Or maybe trying to save her sanity from an onslaught of Pokemon-this and Pokemon-that, I’m not sure.

It reminds me of when I was in a summer reading program at the library and read all of the series, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” among other books. You had to give a mini oral report on each book to the librarian to get credit, and I think you got a gift certificate for some kind of treat if you read a certain number of books by the end of the summer. The following year, there was a new rule that you could only read two or three books from a single series. At the time, I couldn’t help but feel personally singled out! :o

I like the “be a good and polite little boy and ask the teacher if this is allowed” option, though I fear that she will veto it simply because she won’t want to make an exception and risk opening the floodgates.

And I agree, he’s very bright to be learning about probability like that and actually finding real-world applications. (“Real” for the purposes of results in a game, of course.)

I doubt it it would be disrespectful (depending on how he presents it) and might actually show that he took the lessons to heart and found a practical (for him) application. But I would doubt it will change the “no Pokemon” rules.

Having been there, done that with all things Pokemon, I’d be willing to bet that the rule is not there because the teachers believes there is absolutely no educational value in it rather than she is well and truly sick of Pokemon.

When my son was making a project for the science fair, the rules included “no volcanoes”. It wasn’t because volcanoes are not educational, or because nothing could be learned from the project. It was because they are messy, and overdone and the teachers were tired of them.

Weird. I don’t get this. I mean, I guess if it were a “mindless” series but for the Wardrobe books? It’s not like they’re shorter because they’re in a series. Lame.

I think you should both allow and encourage it. Not because I think Pokemon has great educational value, but because your son is showing initiative and it’s an honest effort on his part to improve the classroom experience. More kids should do that, more parents should facilitate it, and more teachers should be open to it. One thing you should do is take a little time to coach him on his presentation skills. Maybe instead of presenting it as a way to learn probabilities and estimating, nudge him into showing how he used probabilities and estimating to understand his game better. Then it becomes something the teacher can see as a link between a student’s interests and the curriculum and use as an example to reach other kids in the future.

I’m teaching a game theory class this semester and sometimes having games in the classroom is an awful distraction, but when used properly they can focus the kids like almost nothing else. Your son’s teacher is probably afraid there’d be too much of the former and not enough of the latter, with good reason. So instead of using Pokemon to teach the lesson, maybe she can use the example to show what people can do with what she has to teach.

On another note, most teachers love to hear from former students about how they were able to use what they learned in class. Even if it comes with a note about how having it tailored to the student’s interests may have made it easier/faster to grasp, this would probably be welcomed by the teacher, as long as it’s presented respectfully.


I know, right? In hindsight I suspect other kids were using easy books and trying to game the system but when you’re a kid you kind of feel like things are your fault.

It might also have been an attempt to get kids to read other genres/series/whatever, but I always had a huge volume of books checked out at each visit and would power through them; that program just happened to coincide with me getting into that series.

Recently I guess the best analogy might be those kids who only read Harry Potter books, and you get the argument of “well at least they’re reading” versus “yes, but they only want more Harry Potter and won’t pick anything else/anything that’s not a clone.” Meanwhile the kids that read Harry Potter and other stuff get unfairly pigeonholed.

Is it possible that the teacher forbids it because evolution is an integral part of the game? :dubious:

The math is much more complicated than that, actually.

Here is a perfectly ordinary game scenario. I’ll summarize the math up-front.

Damage needed to knock out Dialga G = 120. [100+20+20+10+10]
Damage done by Ponyta = 120 = [2(20+20+10+10)]
Damage Calculation = 120-120 = 0. Dialga G is knocked out.

The upshot is that you have little kids doing that kind of math because they really want to knock out that Dialga G! They do it to figure out which would be the best attack for them to use to inflict the maximum damage.

Pokemon motivates second-graders to do this kind of math.

Here’s how it works (no need to read through unless you’re really curious):

You have a Dialga G up. It has 100 hit points and 4 damage counters on it (equaling 40 damage) So you want to use an attack that says that it does 60 damage, right?

Well, maybe, maybe not.

In this case, the attack that says it does 60 damage will not knock it out. Another Pokemon that has an attack that says it does 20 damage CAN knock it out.

Here’s how:

Dialga G has an Expert Belt on it, raising the HP to 120. (80 damage needed)
A Snowpoint Temple stadium is in play, raising the HP to 140 (100 damage needed)
Dialga G has two Special Metal energies on it, reducing the damage taken from any attack by 10 apiece. (Effective HP=140. 120 damage needed.)

Your opponent has a Gengar up with an attack that does 60 damage. She also has a Ponyta on the bench that does 20 damage. Which one is she going to use? The 60 damage attack, right? That’s much better than the attack that does 20 damage, right?


Gengar is resistant to psychic types, so it will only do 40 damage, far below the 120 needed. The opponent has some cards in her hand that will juice up the power of the attack, but they will only add another 40. Not enough.

So what about the 20 damage attack? Will that knock out the Dialga G? Yep. Because the opponent has some good cards in her hand.

She puts up the Ponyta and plans to use the Agility attack (20 damage)
She plays a Buck’s Training (+10 damage=30 damage)
She attaches an Expert Belt (+20 damage=50 damage)
She adds a Plus Power (+10 damage=60 damage)
And what do you know? Dialga G has a 2x weakness to fire types. So 2 x 60 = 120.

When she does the agility attack, it will do 120 damage to Dialga G. 120 + the 40 that’s already on it = 160, which reduces its hit points to 0. Knockout.

–Green Bean, Competitive Pokemon Player

She is not his teacher any more so I am somewhat curious why he wants to show it to her at all. Possibly because my children are…as they are* so feel free to ignore this note if it does not apply.

I would probably tell my kid that he should show it to her, but that the no Pokemon rule probably does not come from the belief that nothing can be learned from Pokemon, but from the experience that nothing *wll *be learned from pokemon except when the class consists of people who know a lot abotu pokemon (which may not include the entire class or even half of it) and when guided by people who already know a lot about it – which population does not usually include grade school teachers. A spinner and colors on the other hand requires no special knowledge or background.

I am sure that pokemon would be very good for math skills in some context, though my experience is that most second graders do not actually play pokemon according to the rules of play. (This may be because the cards are printed in english and the seven year olds I know who are interested in it cannot yet read in english.) The kdis who have the extra level of interest and practice their math skills on it, are doing the same with everything they are interested in.

  • to wit, vicious little power mongers

Well, I’ve never really done this myself, but I think it would really make a teacher’s day. Make them realize that they have made a difference, even when kids seem like they’re in “We’re never gonna USE this mode!”

Wait, are we talking Pokemon the TV show, Pokemon the video game, or Pokemon the card game? Because I can see them being learning experiences and thus having some classroom relevance in roughly the preceding order. I wouldn’t think the TV show would have much, if any, place in the classroom, but the card game would probably do wonders for the kids rapid mental arithmetic skills.

Or if we’re talking some other aspect of Pokemon(collecting the toys, etc) please clarify because I thought the OP was talking about the video game, but it looks like at least two other people are using card game examples.


I was talking about the hand-held Nintendo DS game. My son does not play the trading card game, primarily because he can’t find anyone his age to play it with.

But he’s put a great deal of though into the strategy of battling in the DS game, as opposed to many of his compatriots. They seem to battle based on, “This is a big Pokemon with a powerful move!” Bricker Jr. figures on physical vs. special attacks, type weaknesses, etc. In fact, he battled another Doper over wifi some time back (paging MeDrewNotYou !!) and acquitted himself quite credibly, I’m told. He’ll tell me things like, “It will take three hits for Seismic Toss Blissey to kill this Garchomp,” and he’ll have done the math to know that in advance. “But,” he’ll add, “it’s a bad matchup because Blissey is weak to physical attacks and Garchomp is a strong physical attacker.”

I didn’t mean it in any negative way; I mean just that I would be curious as to why he is thinking of that particular thing.

Maybe it’s a culture gap, I don’t know any seven year olds who have a “We’re never going to use this” mode. Around here that comes much later.

Highly unlikely - why would she have any problem with evolution?

Because some people are dumbasses (that’s a general “some people”, no one in particular) and think there’s some huge assault on teaching evolution in school.

And before anyone gets cite-y on me. Yes, there have been incidents in the past where people try to stop teaching evolution in schools. But these incidents are by no means widespread. Especially for how often it comes up on this board.

More on topic: When I was in grade school we had a “no wrestling” rule because Mrs. D and Mrs. K were really sick of reading about the merits of Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior.

Surely you can’t be serious?

If he’s interested, go to, hit the “TCG” link, and find the link for “Organized Play.” There will be a thingie to help you find a local league. Leagues are usually free.

Also, most leagues now have an option to do DS battles during league time!

Feel free to PM or email me for further details if you like.

They are also printed in German, French, Spanish, and Italian, which may or may not help you. There are an awful lot of players in the Netherlands, though.

Oh, I am certain there are. The 8 year old spawn pokemon players are usually busy in my living room while the 10 year old spawn Yu-gi-oh players are upstairs.

My kids do read english, so they lie to their friends about what the cards say upon occasion. Then they claim to have just translated badly when caught.

I mentioned…how they are, did I not?

And the teacher’s like: Starly? Ponyta? WTF? :confused:

Isn’t it possible the teacher just finds all this Pokemon stuff too complicated and head-swimmy?