Thursday, February 19, 2009

Contraband

I regard myself as somewhat of a Progressive. I'm not one who's much for tradition, doing things the old way, and playing by all the rules simply because someone says we should. This transfers over into my classroom. I can't help it. You had to expect it. Mr. Ray said he fully expected me to be teaching Bukowski to freshmen. So, I don't really go that far, but I think what goes on in my room may be slightly different than what goes on in a lot of classrooms around the country.

Mind you, I treat each of my classes differently and try my best to cater to the needs of my students. All of my students have had different life experiences, and of course some are more mature than others. With my more experienced and mature kids, we can have more serious and deep discussions-- this happened today.

My kids are writing persuasive speeches to make to the class next week. I gave them a looong list of topics to pick from, and the goal was to stay away from those oh-so-cliche topics of the death penalty and abortion. I picked topics that would really cause my kids to think and topics that would really spark their interest. They could pick from the list or they could make up their own. Today we got on the subject of legalizing marijuana, which led to a very rousing and honest discussion between students and teacher. And of course, they were even hesitant about bringing up the subject, but I quickly put them at ease.

I let them know that I have very good friends who grew up in families who very regularly smoked marijuana for a variety of purposes. It wasn't taboo. It wasn't some horrible thing. And all of those people grew up to be very successful law-abiding citizens with college degrees, very good jobs, and great, loving families. I also let them know, that said, smoking weed is still very illegal. And if you do it, you're breaking the law and you will be punished accordingly. So you calculate the risk. Be mature about your decisions.

And then the discussion progressed. I tried to give them accurate information and a few pointers. (I wasn't volunteering info; they were asking questions.)

1- There is a difference in chemical drugs and those that are grown naturally. They do different things to your body and you want to be very careful about what you do to your brain and your heart, because they're the only one's you've got.

2- No, ecstasy doesn't necessarily make you want to have sex. It makes your sense of touch extremely heightened though. It also makes your heart race, your blood pressure high, and it eats holes in your brain if you do it enough. Don't do it. It's chemically made by some guy you don't know and you have no idea what he actually put in the pill.

3- Crack and meth are ghetto. Please don't be ghetto. Plus, you have nice teeth. Keep them that way.

4- Cocaine is way overrated. The high only lasts a few minutes and that's why people get so addicted, because they have to do line after line to keep the high. Drink a red bull or go get some starbucks. Problem solved.

5- If there's heroine in the room, leave. Don't even look at it. It will 100% for sure screw your life up from day one. Run as fast as you can and don't look back.

And last but not least...

6- Umm, no. Pulling out is not a reliable method of birth control. Trust me on this one and just plan to be prepared and responsible.

The kids just kept asking question after question. They were so curious and hungry for information. And I felt like it was very important for me to end with this: There is a whole school of thought, of teachers, of parents, of other adults who think we shouldn't be talking about these things. But here's what I think. At some point in your life, you WILL be faced with some of these decisions. You can write it down and bank on it. And when that time comes, I want you to be informed. I don't want you to be so ignorant and curious that you end up making a huge mistake that you can't fix. I want to be very clear that I am in NO way encouraging you to run out of this classroom and do drugs and have sex. I am telling you I want you to be smart about what you're doing with your body. I want you to protect yourself and make intelligent decisions. And I think you won't be able to do that unless you're informed on the issues. So consider yourself informed. Now go and do good.

And it just impressed upon me how little we actually tell kids about these things. No wonder we have so many strung out kids and 14 year old girls with babies. My kids always ask tons of questions when we talk about sex or STD's. They're not getting answers anywhere else. Somebody's gotta talk to them in a very honest and up front way. So yeah, we say a lot of scary, taboo words in our class. But I also have kids now who understand what their bodies are capable of (physically and chemically) and they can make intelligent decisions when it comes to those things.

And I feel good about that.

3 comments:

whitney said...

You know how to stir it up, don't you? I was reading this, and had a thought, hopefully worth sharing: thank goodness you are talking to them about these things. Heaven only knows we never heard it. That being said, realize that because you are talking about things, you are going down in these kids memories as "the teacher that told me that..." They are NOT going to forget you. And, from this point forward, they'll probably listen a lot closer to everything you say. This is awesome. So please, please, please, while you're at it, issue every possible warning and consequence you can possibly think of, just in case my kid is every in your classroom.

I so LOVE you.

Mrs. Daisy Girl said...

Thanks. :) I miss you! Also, you have to remember, many of my kids (who are 16 and 17) are already sexually active and drink pretty regularly. And no one's discussing these things with them. I've heard them say things like, "She's too hot to have an STD..." And, "You know you can die from Herpes..." I was just like Woooow. There's a lot of misinformation out there. We need to clear this up ASAP!

tomorrowsmemoriesphotography said...

well said! good for you talking to the kids about this... Lord knows most of the parents aren't!